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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 October 2010) . . Page.. 4894 ..


been great ambassadors for Canberra and enhanced the profile in junior development in Canberra and the region. Likewise, the Brumbies have contributed through their emergence as one of the significant teams in the Super 14 Rugby Union competition, profiling Canberra not only nationally but throughout the growing Rugby Union competitions in South Africa and New Zealand.

Thus there is an opportunity for Canberra, and also for the AFL, to once again regain a foothold in our national capital that should bring more benefits to the Canberra community through increased tourism and business opportunities, through junior and senior football development and through community involvement. Indeed, the strategy devised by Peter Taylor states that ACT 4 GWS is not just about securing a few AFL games at Manuka Oval each year: it also brings other opportunities for the local Aussie Rules participants. It gives a real opportunity to provide Canberra local talent with a clearer pathway to the AFL.

I understand that already GWS has signed five of our local boys on the club’s inaugural list. A partnership with GWS and the new directions that have been outlined will mean an end to the fly-in, fly-out arrangements of the past; give us a Canberra team, a team that will play four matches in Canberra with a special ACT-designed jersey for the local matches; and give the opportunity for Canberrans to follow a team with local connections that will compete in the AFL. It is an opportunity that is there for the taking.

Peter Taylor and his hardworking team have done well to get so close to that magic 5,000 membership figure. But he is already talking about getting beyond that figure. He quotes the Hawthorn-Launceston connection that has been in place for a few years, where 8,000 members have been signed up. Obviously, that took a number of years. But the work that has already been put in is very significant. I would like to urge AFL fans here with club allegiances that this is not about love for the club; it is about love for the game and support for the AFL in Canberra.

If this campaign is successful, Canberra will have an opportunity to play a meaningful part in the overall development of the AFL. This is a rare opportunity where a professional AFL club becomes part of our city. We are not merely buying games, as Peter has said; AFL Canberra will have a seat on the board of GWS. This will further ensure that Canberra is heard in any future development in AFL. It will also mean that local clubs will have direct links in the national AFL league. It would also contribute to a stronger link between grassroots and elite sports, giving juniors a clear path to AFL development programs and access to broader competition opportunities.

There are proposals for a junior GWS squad for prospective Canberra talent to develop their talent, and the reserve team will play in the local competition. In fact, with regard to the second-tier competition, we would be the hub for the Riverina.

In addition to that, GWS already has an active community and schools program which would be a welcome addition to our sports outreach offerings here in the ACT. There are also prospects for a tie-in with the sports program at the University of Canberra which I think will serve to further enhance our profile as an internationally competitive sports industry cluster. I was proud to have been amongst the people who


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