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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 October 2010) . . Page.. 4896 ..

do so. If by the end of this speech I can see the membership counter tick over—I will hit “refresh” in a moment—I think this will be a fantastic thing.

I do accept that there is a challenge that Mr Doszpot has laid down that we, in Canberra, could, in fact, be more supportive of this new team than the Tasmanian community is of the mighty Hawthorn football club, but we do have a little catching up to do, noting that that arrangement has been in place for a little longer and that, in fact, what has occurred in Tasmania is that they have been able to sell membership to a club that exists and is playing games.

I think it is a credit to the Canberra community that nearly 5,000 have signed up to it and they have not got a product yet. We know it is coming and we know it is going to be fantastic. People have taken a leap of faith here and it is fantastic to see.

I think it is important to note from the outset that, as minister for tourism and minister for sport, I have been actively involved in working with the local organisations and with the AFL in order to see this come to fruition. I look forward to the day in the next month or so when we can stop referring to the team as GWS. It will have its own name and its own branding that will encompass something broader than just western Sydney. I think this is a part of what we are trying to achieve here.

The AFL have set out for this region and have been very clear from the start that, although the major economic base and the major population base for this team clearly is in western Sydney, it is a team for the region. Canberra is the second largest population base within the team’s region and we have a really important role to play. And I think that acknowledgement from the AFL from the start has been really important in ensuring that we get the outcome that I am now increasingly confident we will.

I think it is also worth acknowledging the role and the lead teams play in Canberra. They have a very strong mentoring effect on younger Canberrans. There is ample evidence to show that primary school and high school age kids are motivated into physical activity and are likely to stay active for longer and lead longer, healthier and more productive lives when they have these role models close by.

That is one of the reasons why we have established the Children’s Physical Activity Foundation and why we have the minister’s physical activity challenge. That is why the government supports sport at a community and elite level so strongly. That is why we work hard to ensure that teams like the Brumbies, the Raiders, the Darters, the Capitals, the Meteors, the Comets, just to name a few, continue to call our city home and continue to have such a strong community-based relationship. That is why we invest in sporting facilities. That is why we continue, as a government and a community, to support the most active sporting community in Australia.

Sport and physical activity have a massive economic impact as well. According to Access Economics, sport is contributing around $245 million a year to the ACT economy and providing full-time work for nearly 3,000 Canberrans. This study that Access Economics undertook shows that participation in sport and recreation is saving the community over $84 million a year in associated health costs. And if we were able

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