Page 2010 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 June 2015

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I focus firstly on the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate because this is really the local council directorate within the government, the agency that gets out there and does a lot of the on-the-ground work that I know many members in this place are interested in. Certainly it is an area of great interest to the community. It takes the lead in both caring for our suburbs in their current form and providing that level of renewal and ongoing maintenance that keeps the city in great shape.

There are a number of initiatives in this budget that go to the very heart of Ms Fitzharris’s motion about really looking after this city, including direct municipal services funding in new suburbs—$8 million over four years—which means that TAMS will be able to afford to deliver the same services across new suburbs instead of stretching existing funds across existing and new suburbs. As those new areas come on stream, TAMS will have additional capacity to make sure they are looked after.

We have also seen $8 million over four years for more mowing, weeding, tree and shrub management in high visibility areas, lake and pond cleaning, graffiti removal and prevention. This range of services is often the one that members of the public write to us about. In fact many of them contact Canberra Connect directly, and that is something I would remind members of. I am always happy to respond to letters from members, but I would ask members to encourage members of the public to go directly to Canberra Connect. The job usually gets done quicker, it is more efficient, and people are therefore happier because the job is done in a more timely manner.

On some of those really basic requests that we get about overgrown trees over a footpath, members might take the time to help educate the community and indicate to them that if they just ring Canberra Connect the ranger will go straight out. They do not need to contact a member of the Assembly, who will then write to me and then the department has to be contacted. I will always do it, but you might like to spend some time informing members of the terrific government service that is there through Canberra Connect.

There are a range of other initiatives coming out of this budget in relation to the TAMS Directorate that I think are very beneficial. We have $500,000 over two years for the design and construction of age-friendly facilities in Kaleen and Tuggeranong. This is the continuation of a program that we got underway in my time as Minister for Ageing. Mr Gentleman is carrying this forward now and shares the same enthusiasm. We started with the suburbs of Weston and Ainslie. We had a very focused approach of looking at a suburb and saying, “We’ve got a lot of older people in this suburb. Let’s have a look at the physical infrastructure in this case and look at how we can improve it, renew it, upgrade it, to make life that bit better, particularly for our older residents, who may be less sure on their feet but still want to be able to get out there and walk.” We wanted to make sure, I guess, that they felt safer doing it.

There were a range of steps there, including the widening of paths, the implementation of traffic islands, refuge spots and wheelchair ramps—those very practical things that make a real difference, particularly for older people. I am pleased that the project is continuing. It is a testament to the fact that the idea was the right

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