Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2854..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Whilst I am pleased to see the CPI continue for the grants program, I am disappointed that, in very strong economic times, there are not additional programs or additional money in the grants program that will benefit mass-participation sport-especially as we are seeing huge concerns about childhood obesity and the resultant health problems and health costs that will result. I have seen figures that show that if ACT people were fitter our health budget would drop some 10 per cent. One of the more recent reviews of sport indicated that with just a little more effort we would be saving about $18.5 million or $20 million a year on health costs just by people being more physically active. So it is crucially important to do all we can to get people active.
Whilst I note significant advances of money the government has put in the grants program in the outyears, the sports budget sadly seems to have missed out. I think they are both equally important. Compared with other states, Canberra is a very active community-we should be more active but we are an active community-but whilst maintaining our premier position, the number of persons engaged in good healthy physical activity is increasing in the other states, which are catching up with us. It is crucially important that that be addressed. Sadly, I do not think it has been addressed in this budget as much as it should have been-especially given the solid economic base this government has to operate under as a result of the excellent work done by the previous government and the generally very good economic times the country finds itself in, also as a result of some excellent work done by the Howard government. So I make those points in relation to sport and recreation.
I also note the very good program started by the first Carnell government providing money for teams in national competitions. Initially, $600,000 was allocated to that. Although several teams, like the Cannons and the Comets, have dropped out, money is available and that has been distributed fairly well. About $30,000 should still be there. The allocation is now down to $570,000 and probably one or two Canberra teams should benefit from that. I would think one will probably be Belconnen Blue Devils, who represent Canberra in the summer competition, which is the next best thing to the National Soccer League. As a result of changes being made by Soccer Australia, that will probably become the premier soccer competition at that time of year. That team has represented Canberra with distinction. This year it won the club championship, the minor premiership-or championship as I think they call it in soccer-unfortunately going down in the grand final.
A couple of other teams might qualify for that particularly good program, which has helped a number of Canberra teams in national or semi-national competitions very effectively. So, I make those points in relation to the sport and recreation portfolio and indicate that I would have liked to have seen some additional moneys in the budget for the Academy of Sport and the general grants program.
MS DUNDAS (11.34): A number of issues under the Chief Minister's Department portfolio should be touched on. I note the significant money for the implementation of the Canberra social plan. Whilst some initiatives under that social plan may be implemented, the money allocated to the social plan is far less than the money being allocated to the economic white paper. Maybe that is because of the cost of each of those different groups of papers, but there needs to be greater examination of the priorities we are setting for our community.