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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 350..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

balancing acts that we have sometimes to do, in order to ensure that we do seek to respect the rights of all, not just some. That is difficult.

One of the difficulties we have always had in public life in developing public policy and disbursing resources is with how best to achieve those balances. A real difficulty that this report presents to me, to my government, to this parliament and to each and every one of us is the need for us to ensure that we do get the balances right. The suggestion that Gallop makes is that perhaps we have not.

Downer jump track

MS GALLAGHER: My question is to the Treasurer, Mr Quinlan. Treasurer, this question relates to an issue of national importance, with serious local implications. The Downer jump track is a community facility managed by the Downer Community Association. The jump track is an outdoor BMX-style cycling venue, which attracts cyclists from all over Canberra. The Downer Community Association manage the site-they volunteer to do so-checking both morning and night that the site is free of hazards and is well maintained.

Towards the end of last year the public liability insurance for the jump track increased by $8,000 per year. Despite the commendable efforts of the Downer Community Association and the assistance of this government, the Downer community is faced with the loss of an important public venue.

Minister, to what extent are the difficulties faced by the Downer Community Association in trying to keep the jump track open the result of the current crisis in liability insurance, and how does the government plan to resolve this issue?

MR QUINLAN: First, I must acknowledge the efforts of Ms Gallagher in relation to that facility at Downer and the efforts she has made on behalf of the community. They have worked hard to provide a facility that will entertain kids and keep them interested-and possibly preoccupied enough not to involve themselves in less social behaviour. I have visited the facility with Ms Gallagher at least once and made a small personal contribution to the fund, actually.

Across Australia and across the Western world there is a real crisis in insurance. It is not feasible for the government to readily cover all of the organisations that are now being impacted by rapidly escalating insurers' premiums-in public liability, professional liability, workers compensation and professional liability for the medicos. It is just not possible, within the financial constraints that we have, to increase the various levels of funding. This is leaving community organisations, sporting organisations and businesses in difficult situations.

Some propositions have been put forward. There are moves at the national level for an upcoming treasurers conference to address this situation. Commitments have been made by the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan, and the small business minister, Joe Hockey-words more about what the states might do, in a very difficult situation, than about what the Commonwealth might contribute.


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