Upgrades to Higgins Playgrounds

I seek leave to make a brief statement in relation to the petition that I have presented.

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Madam Speaker, I have presented a petition signed by more than 200 Canberra residents in the Higgins area, calling on the ACT Government to provide adequate funding and services for maintenance and upgrades of playgrounds in Higgins, namely the playgrounds located along Hudson Street and Westhoven Street.

I receive many emails and phone calls from constituents regarding the quality of playgrounds in the Ginninderra electorate. I have also had the opportunity to personally meet a number of these people to discuss with them their concerns. More than half of all the complaints I have received concerning playgrounds relate to the current state of playgrounds in Higgins, and I have promised to bring this matter to the attention of the ACT Government.

Higgins is a suburb in my electorate where many people choose to raise their families. It is a place where children under the age of 14 make up more than 20 per cent of the suburb’s population, and where families with children make up over 60 per cent of households.

My constituents in Higgins and also in neighbouring suburbs call on the ACT Government to recognise the importance of families having access to playgrounds that are well designed, functional and in good condition, in order to provide a safe and welcoming environment where children can go outdoors and be physically active and where families can spend time together and enjoy public amenities in their local neighbourhoods, which they dearly pay for in their rates.

This is not the case when playgrounds are not safe, do not look fun and are lacking in suitable amenities. For example, when local residents invited me to visit the Hudson Street playground in Higgins, it then featured a broken bubbler and a rusty, peeling swing set.

Appalled, I wrote to Minister Fitzharris on behalf of my constituents on this matter. The minister responded only that replacing the broken bubbler at this playground would be considered at some point in the future. And then the broken bubbler was removed – perhaps to take away a clear and present reminder of this government’s neglect of both basic infrastructure as well as the families of Higgins.

I was also invited to visit the Westhoven Street playground in the same suburb, which lacks sun protection. When I wrote to Ms Fitzharris regarding this issue, the minister responded that tree planting to provide shade had ‘been determined unsuitable at this location.’ And on the option of shade sails, the minister merely noted that the next opportunity to consider shade structures for playgrounds would be the 2018–19 budget process – the outcome of which, of course, could not be guaranteed.

Madam Speaker, the residents of the Ginninderra electorate take pride in improving and maintaining their neighbourhoods. They are active in voicing their needs and concerns when it comes to ensuring that their suburbs are clean, safe and welcoming for everyone who visits or resides there. Community activism should be appreciated, and we should encourage all Canberrans to come forward with the valuable feedback that they have and contribute to bettering our streets and suburbs.

Today, more than 200 Canberrans in my electorate share their input with the Assembly. They are alerting you of the urgent need to provide upgrades to these two playgrounds in Higgins – not maybe in next year’s budget and not at some vague point in the future, either.

These residents are tired of the general shabbiness that has resulted across this territory as a consequence of this government’s chronic neglect of basic maintenance and urban services, and they are especially frustrated with the state of their suburb and its playgrounds. I share their frustration and am honoured to bring their voices into the Chamber this morning.

Madam Speaker, these Canberra families ask for a working bubbler, park benches, climbing frames and slides for the playground located along Hudson Street in Higgins, as well as a shade sail for the playground located along Westhoven Street in the same suburb. They also petition the government to maintain the other playgrounds in Higgins – a request so self-evident, Madam Speaker, that it should never need to be made.

I commend this petition, with its 203 signatures, to the Assembly.

#Petition #Ginninderra

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