Stimulus, Schools and Skating

I wrote a column for the Chronicle newspaper recently about the opening of the 'Belco Bowl'.
Stimulus, Schools and Skating
The Chronicle

The original skateboarders were bored California surfers – they came up with the new sport in the 1940s as a way to kill time when the waves were flat. Opening the new ‘Belco Bowl’ with Chris Bourke MLA earlier this month, I told the audience that its location couldn’t be more apt. As Canberra skaters look out over the calm waters of Lake Ginninderra, they can be reminded of how their sport started.

For anyone who hasn’t yet been to the Belco Bowl, you’re in for a treat. Now the largest skate park in the southern hemisphere, the Belco Bowl offers opportunities for expert skaters to show off their ollies, wheelies and pivots, as well as a space for first-timers to practice. For non-skaters like me, it’s a place where my wife and I can take our 2 year old and 4 year old boys, so they can watch with wide eyes as the BMX riders and skateboarders do their tricks.

The Belco Bowl upgrade was partially funded by the Australian government under the stimulus program. When the Global Financial Crisis struck in 2008, the federal government responded with household payments and infrastructure spending. We chose infrastructure projects that were both necessary and ‘shovel ready’. This included funding to upgrade Canberra’s local roads. Glebe Park also got a makeover, with a new shade sail, seating and event stage.

Every primary school received new facilities as part of the stimulus program. If you have children at school, you’ll have seen how these projects have improved their educational experience. For example, Florey Primary School has new science labs where the kids can follow in the footsteps of Howard Florey, who discovered penicillin. At Amaroo Primary School, teachers can teach in their traditional classroom, or remove the dividing walls between classrooms and teach in teams. At the Forde campus of Burgmann Anglican College, the new multipurpose hall has sharply raked seating, so all children can see the stage.

Across Australia, stimulus spending saved around 200,000 jobs, and our unemployment rate now stands at 5%, well below the jobless rate in Britain (8%) and the US (9%). Long-term unemployment can leave scars that last a lifetime. The stimulus spending not only prevented recession, it also left a valuable legacy: safer roads, better sporting facilities and revamped schools. From the Belco Bowl to Amaroo Primary, we’re investing to ensure Canberra stays the best city in Australia.

Andrew Leigh is the federal member for Fraser.

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