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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (4 September) . . Page.. 3079 ..

MR BERRY (4.32): I rise, too, to support Mr Hird's motion. I think it is timely and, indeed, it ought to be expected by the community of us in the Assembly. Many have spoken about the fine work that was put in by the Paralympians and the Olympians and all the work that they put into their particular sports before they went away. So, I do not need to dwell on that, Mr Speaker. It has all been said, and said most eloquently. But what I do want to draw attention to is the amendment that has been moved by Ms Follett to ensure that the Government arranges proper funding for the Paralympians so that schoolchildren can attend the welcome home parade.

My colleague earlier pointed out the cost of the heroes parade, which is found in an article in the Chronicle on page 3. I think that was just a disgrace. I am very pleased to observe, I think, that the Government members look as though they have been shamed, red-faced, into agreeing that they have been absolutely hopeless. So, Mr Speaker, I am urging Government members to vote for Ms Follett's amendment. I will certainly be voting for it. We need to pass the motion because, I think, given the Government's performance, we need to have a motion on the books to ensure that they carry it through.

There is one other matter, Mr Speaker, which I think we should dwell on just for a moment, and that is funding for disabled swimmers. In the newspapers' letters columns there have been several letters in relation to this matter. It is now very clear that the funding for the disabled swimming program which was run by ACT Swimming has been concluded. The Government has been so mean on this issue, in a year when the Paralympians went away and did so much for the image of Australia, that it brings shame to this Assembly. Fancy backing away from that funding! That is a great change. They were receiving funding, and the Government discontinued it.

Mr Speaker, you should have seen the letter from Mrs Carnell in the paper, going through the pretence that the Government in some way was responsible for the program continuing under ACT Swimming. That was the most outrageous and misleading letter that I have read in the Assembly for some time. The fact of the matter is that the Government did not continue the funding, and ACT Swimming had to carry out the program itself. Mrs Carnell was quick to stand out in front of the parade and grab the limelight in relation to the Paralympics when the athletes went away. It was great. But behind the scenes we find that ACT Swimming has missed out on funding for an important swim program for disabled potential Paralympian athletes. I just think that is disgraceful.

How can you sit there, blush-free, Chief Minister, when those sorts of things are allowed to happen within your Government? This incompetent Minister over here ought to have been advising you to ensure that that funding was continued in order that disabled athletes could be seen to be treated fairly in a year when the Paralympians were going away to do their bit for Australia. If this incompetent Minister did not advise you accordingly, you should fix it right now. There is a debate going on in this chamber. The Government will rise shortly and say, "We will fund the buses", because we have shamed them into it. Here is another thing you should be shamed into saying - "We will reinstate the funding to ACT Swimming to run the disabled program". Come on; show us how good you are. We can shame you into a few buses; let us shame you into a few dollars for the disabled swimmers. What a joke!

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