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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3974 ..

Sportsfields - Watering and Fees

MR OSBORNE: I would like to clarify a point that Mr De Domenico made. I think he gave the impression that he has won me over. The department is looking at a fair compromise on the Gordon school bus. I will reserve my judgment on that one. My question is to the Minister for Sport, Mr "Scrooge" Stefaniak.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will be given his correct name.

MR OSBORNE: I am sorry - Mr Stefaniak. Minister, noting as I said on Tuesday that you intend to achieve cost savings totalling some $360,000 - - -

Mrs Carnell: Did it not rain yesterday?

MR SPEAKER: Order! Let Mr Osborne ask a question of Mr Stefaniak.

MR OSBORNE: There is a clown everywhere, Mr Speaker. Noting that you intend to achieve cost savings totalling some $360,000 on the upkeep of sportsfields next year, of which $250,000 is coming from a reduction in watering, could you please explain how you can justify introducing a further hike on the booking fee and on the per hour training fee for the junior sporting clubs when you are providing them with a more dangerous facility? Are you, in fact, double dipping by cutting back on costs and charging more for the hire by groups? One club in particular, Minister, is faced with a potential increase of about $2,000.

MR STEFANIAK: There has been a lot of consultation about sportsground fees. ACTSport and the various sporting groups concerned were involved. It was a fairly laborious and lengthy effort, and I make no bones about that. I have no problems with that, because that sort of consultation is absolutely essential. It certainly has occurred over a number of years in the sporting areas, and whilst I am Minister it will continue. As a result of all that consultation, the fee increases, which are fairly moderate, Mr Osborne, were agreed to. One of the possibilities in attempting to find efficiencies in government would be to further increase fees for sportsgrounds, which I certainly ruled out, Mr Osborne.

In relation to the use of water, as I indicated to you on Tuesday in explaining what we are aiming to save in sportsground management - and there are various ways of doing it - and as I think a few members have mentioned, we have had a pretty wet season so far. That helps us to stay on track. Mr Osborne, I, as well as you, am well aware of the fact that if we end up having a very dry summer the appropriate amount of water is simply going to have to be put onto the grounds. To do otherwise would be a false economy. There is not much point in not watering grounds which need it. If you do that, it costs you considerably more to replace the turf and redo the grounds than it would to put the water on. So far, Mr Osborne, we have been able to make some efficiencies. We have also had reasonably favourable weather conditions. Hopefully, if those continue, it will be of great assistance to us in what we aim to achieve this financial year.

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