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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 745..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

that there are adequate opportunities for participation. It is an area that we really need to be looking at.

Physical activity is important for the 50-plus age bracket, to help prevent heart disease. I know my colleague Mr Mulcahy alluded to this, too. Along with that come associated medical conditions. We need to ensure our ageing population remains fit and well. If we do not engage in these programs, our elderly, whether they are in nursing homes or in private homes, will need to make more frequent use of our health system, which again does not make sense. Surely there would be no argument that in this case prevention or early intervention is better than cure.

Sport, recreation and physical activity are key ingredients to a healthier lifestyle and a smaller health bill. Given the current state of the health system in the ACT, now is not the time to be cutting sport and recreation programs that help to promote a fitter and healthier lifestyle. If the government is deeply concerned and sincerely concerned about the health of Canberrans, it will do the right thing and ensure sport and recreation does not experience massive funding cuts which will inevitably impact on the territory's health bill.

I will possibly leave it there-there is much we can talk about on this issue-to give other members a chance. I am concerned that if we do not speak up and if the community does not speak up it will not be heard; this matter will get put to the bottom of the pile. What more do we want than to not have burgeoning health problems, for a start; and, secondly, more levels of expenditure at the other end, when it becomes more and more expensive to deal with the cause, rather than inputting money and targeting it while children are young? I raise the example of kids at play again. Surely that is better.

I hope that the government takes heed today. It is disappointing, as I say, that the motion, as Dr Foskey alluded to, will get watered down. It is disappointing somewhat that the government does not seem to be able to stand any criticism or suggestion that things can be done better. It seems challenged by having any real and genuine debates on motions moved by the crossbencher and the opposition.

Again, I will be supporting Mr Stefaniak's motion. Good on him for putting it on the paper. Good on all those community organisations for speaking up and being heard. We know that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. This is true in this case. If we do not do something now and speak out loudly, clearly and quite obviously, it may be one of those areas that are overlooked and we will see diminishing engagement of people in physical activity in our community. I support the motion today.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.47): I speak to the amendments first. I will close the debate later if no-one else wants to talk. Initially, I speak to the amendments. Dr Foskey put it very well: these amendments would completely truncate the effect of this motion. In a minute I will come back to the government's amendments.

My motion is a very simple motion. There are three points that I have asked the Assembly to note. Secondly, my motion calls on the government to do something, and that is to give a guarantee that the office of Sport and Recreation ACT will remain in one department and not be spread across a number of departments. That is not a major thing

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