29 November 2021

Mowing schedule woes continue amid long grass, rain ... and goats?

| Lottie Twyford
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Slow down near mowing operations.

Long grass has become the bane of many Canberrans’ existence. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

With rain comes growth – and while no one would argue this is a bad thing, many agree it is possible to have too much of a good thing. As in grass.

There’s long, out-of-control grass everywhere you look – and in some cases, local sports grounds are out of action and motorists are struggling to see past it as it takes over roundabouts and verges around Canberra.

While the ACT Government says it’s only two weeks behind its regular mowing schedule, the Opposition simply doesn’t think that’s good enough, saying the same excuses of ‘unexpected rain’ are heard year upon year.

In response, Opposition whip Jeremy Hanson moved a motion in the place of Opposition spokesperson for city services Nicole Lawder calling on the ACT Government to update its mowing schedule in response to weather patterns and increase funding.

Mr Hanson wasn’t willing to cut the government any slack, even though the Bureau of Meteorology has just declared a La Niña in the Pacific Ocean, and it’s very likely this month could become the city’s wettest month ever recorded.

“Every year, when we get a bit of rainfall, the government just does not keep up with the mowing,” he said.

“Their excuse is ‘oh, well, we weren’t expecting this.”

“They need to be better prepared.”

The Opposition called for more resources, surge funding and a better long-term strategy to get the mowing done.

Mr Hanson said the motion was being moved in order to express the concerns of frustrated Canberrans.

He accused the ACT Government of continual neglect of basic services and of losing touch with the ordinary Canberran.

“There’s no doubt that this government is not focused on suburbs and on the things that matter to Canberrans,” Mr Hanson said.

“It’s got its priorities wrong.”

Minister for City Services Chris Steel, however, said staying on top of mowing was already one of the government’s highest priorities.

He said preparation for this year’s mowing program started in July and is now going ahead at full capacity, but the Government could not control the rain.

“Even with the best-laid plans, you can’t mow a lawn when it’s wet,” he said. “It damages the equipment and it’s a safety issue.”

Mr Steel said that despite all of the rain, the mowing program was only two weeks behind and mowing crews were working as hard as possible.

The Government did not support Mr Hanson’s motion, instead almost entirely amending it to call on the ACT Government to “continue providing high levels of funding to mowing activities” and to recognise the impacts of recent rainfall and the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the city, innovative methods are being used to keep on top of land management.

Elisabeth Larsen with a goat

Elisabeth Larsen with one of her star goats, Monty, who chews away at invasive weeds on NCA lands. Photo: NCA.

The National Capital Authority, for example, uses goats to manage introduced weeds on some of its lands that are outside of the National Triangle.

NCA Open Space manager Michelle Jeffrey said goats are handy because they have a massive appetite for the kinds of species land managers deem ‘invasive’ such as blackberry and hawthorn.

“What they don’t eat, they trample,” Ms Jeffrey explained.

“This helps reduce the bio-mass and makes it easier for any follow-up crews to come through.”

They are managed by Goat Manager Elisabeth Larsen who keeps them in order with an electric-fenced pen that keeps them in, and other animals like dogs, out.

Unlike crews, goats also don’t need lunch breaks and they don’t mind working weekends either, Ms Jeffrey noted.

But the goats can’t be used to mow lawns and it turns out even they don’t like the rain that much.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on Riotact.

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All of the grass must be a major contributor to the extreme pollen count in Canberra. The grass has been in seed for weeks now. It is causing awful headaches, fatigue and breathing problems and is a health issue – the government’s failure to mow is therefore inexcusable.

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