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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 9 Hansard (4 September) . . Page.. 2923..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Obviously the Government is not opposed to people having a good time. People are entitled to go to such things as B and S balls. It is traditional for people to go to those balls and let their hair down, if they have any to let down.

MR SPEAKER: Ah, those dear, dear days, Minister!

MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed. That is fair enough. But, Mr Speaker, they do need to ensure that there is compliance with the liquor laws. Strong enforcement of those laws in respect of licensed premises cannot be assumed to be any less important in respect of informal special licensed premises, and that will be the point we will be making by this additional investigation.

New South Wales/ACT Rams

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, before I ask my question I would like to say that I have a lot of regrets in my life. I regret leaving St George. They went on to make two grand finals. I probably at times regret not going to play football in England. Today I have another regret, namely, that I was not here to boot out Mr Berry. I was caught up at home. I think I will get over it. Perhaps I will get another chance soon.

MR SPEAKER: Would you mind asking your question, Mr Osborne.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Sport. Minister, as I am sure you are aware, in 1996 the Australian Football League approved the inclusion of the New South Wales/ACT Rams in the elite under-18 AFL youth competition. This competition draws from central and southern New South Wales and establishes Canberra as the major regional centre outside Victoria being responsible for the development of junior AFL players. Predictions last year that the team would be uncompetitive and would struggle to win a game have proven to be wrong. The team finished second, going down in the grand final. From that team six players were drafted to the AFL, three of whom were local Canberrans. Other obvious benefits include providing local jobs, positive national exposure and an estimated benefit to the ACT economy of nearly $800,000 a year. However, in spite of the team's initial success, Minister, its long-term financial viability is not yet assured. Initial funding for the Rams came from the local AFL, the Ainslie footy club and two community-based clubs. I understand that the only other outside financial assistance for the Rams has been a modest contribution from the Health Promotion Fund this year, but at no time have they received financial assistance from the Government. On 21 July this year, Minister, you received a letter from the general manager of the southern region drawing your attention to the fact that a concerted effort is being made to relocate the team to Sydney - an effort that is still ongoing, I am led to believe. Given that such a move would relegate the ACT to becoming an AFL backwater in the region, given that 19 full-time and part-time jobs in the team's support staff are under threat, and given that the Government has been extremely generous to the Cosmos, the Cannons, the Raiders and the Brumbies, to name a few, will you reconsider your decision not to invest the $50,000 a year that the Rams asked for for the next three years? Does your Government feel comfortable with the thought that perhaps we could lose this team to Sydney?

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