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Canberra Times . . Page.. 1338 ..

MR SPEAKER: Order! Some Government members are offside at the moment.

MR WOOD: They often are, Mr Speaker. We are now hearing the Minister talking about the department putting out options. Mr Stefaniak is meeting with interested groups, and I think a little more sense is probably starting to emerge. He would perhaps deny it now, but it seemed fairly clear at one stage that he wanted one afternoon or morning or some part of every week set aside for interschool sporting competitions. I think that foolish notion, if it was there, and I will be generous to him - it was there? - has certainly been buried now; is that the case?

Mr Stefaniak: Let us see the options, Bill. I have not seen them yet.

MR WOOD: I suspect that those options will not be forthcoming on that because the Minister has been told quite clearly that school timetables, apart from anything else, are not geared for that sort of arrangement; nor perhaps are there enough buses, and certainly there are not enough interested students to engage in such activity. So we may get something rather more sensible.

Part of the debate earlier, and I am pleased that it is not emerging in this Assembly - I do not think it is part of Mr Stefaniak's thinking - concerned elitism in sport. There was that element from ACTSport, I believe, earlier on; but I am pleased to say that it is not emerging in our schools. The view that is expressed here and the view that is generally agreed is that we must look to physical activity for all our students. Bushwalking, I think Mr Stefaniak said, is as fine as anything else, if you do not fall over the cliff, and Ms McRae pointed out that supervision is a very large issue. Getting that activity from all students and then seeing it as part of their whole life is very important. I think there has been success in that. The fact that we are a very participative community in terms of sport makes that point. Obviously, in Canberra people are carrying these habits into their adult life. It may be that the process is rather more back on track.

The inquiry is a sound idea because it will ensure that the views of all those people who have interest and knowledge and concern in this area are very carefully heard, and that is the point I should finish on. There was a time when people were not being heard on this, and we need to listen carefully to what all those participants - the students, the parents, the teachers - have to say on the matter.

MR OSBORNE (12.18): Mr Speaker, being a person who prides himself on his physical fitness, I had planned to cover this topic in more detail in my reply to the ministerial statement Mr Stefaniak made back in May on Government support for sport and recreation. However, I will make a few brief comments now. The motion before us is a call for, and I quote from Richard Scherer's letter to the Canberra Times, “a comprehensive inquiry to examine the full extent of the problem of students’ fitness and health in the ACT”. That is something I agree with. All sides in this issue have the same starting point, namely, that something needs to be done to change radically the level of general health and fitness of our schoolchildren and that these changes need to be good value for money and long lasting. That much cooperation at least is very encouraging.

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