Tuesday 24 June 2008, 10:15am
It is always a pleasure to be involved in the opening of something which will enhance the working conditions or the facilities for staff and Members. That is even more so, when it is a facility whose prime purpose is the care of children – in this case the children of staff and Members.
The Parliamentary PlayHouse has a fine tradition of involving staff and Members. None of us who were around at the time will forget the passion and dogged determination displayed by people like MP Liz Tennant as she lobbied for a crèche in the early 1990s.
Over the years they have been replaced by others, equally committed to returning to work, while having their children cared for in a safe and loving environment.
The PlayHouse first opened in 1992. Since then it has been moved twice but has been on its current site for about 10 years. When the time came for this refurbishment, it needed a temporary home. Things were looking desperate as
location after location was rejected. Then along came Paul …. or to give him his full title, the Hon Paul Swain, MP, and more importantly father of Madeline and Emily.
He discovered space on Level 1 in Bowen House, the children moved in and work started in January. Over the next six months, the two dozen children played and slept in Bowen House, rode its lifts, travelled on escalators and the travelator as they moved between the lawn at the back of the library and Bowen House.
They became more visible to visitors, staff and members and in their own way became part of Parliament.
They are now back in the refurbished centre and I think you’ll agree the outcome is worth the inconvenience of the last six months. The outdoor area, complete with covered deck, paths for bike riding, stepping stones in the garden and a sandpit is a dream result.
A lot of thought has gone into this refurbishment and I’d like to thank the architects, contractors, Parliamentary Service and the Play House management committee.
In particular I’d like to thank Denise and her staff. The PlayHouse staff have carried the burden of the alternative arrangements and we are all grateful for what has been achieved without compromising the safety and care of the children.
I have much pleasure in declaring the refurbished PlayHouse open.