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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1928 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

tries to do it a little bit more responsibly, in my view. Yes, it is difficult, but we need to keep an eye on how you balance things and where you draw the line. But it is up to the Government to do it the way they see fit and up to us to criticise them if they cannot do it right.

Of course, there are a number of areas that are of concern - preschools, the SACS award and arts funding - but I do not think the answer lies in the solution that the Labor Party would have us accept. In the interests of stability, I am prepared to give the Government my support on this budget, with an undertaking to keep an eye on the balancing act.

MR QUINLAN (5.25): I rise to exercise my duty to the people of Canberra and to represent the people who elected me and to challenge what the Government has done in the budget and to challenge their priorities, because that is to a large extent the reason that I am here. For Mr Rugendyke's benefit, we are here to ensure that there is debate on those matters and that we keep the Government honest, as honest as we can. That is our role. That is the function of this Assembly. Otherwise, we should just take the days off, Mr Rugendyke.

I want to make a couple of comments in relation to the sports elements of the budget. I have no particular objection to - in fact, it is good to see in its own right - the promotion of elite sports and national teams and very considerable investment in one particular stadium, although I do think we should have done something about our long-term access to that stadium and the long-term arrangements before we started sinking our money into it, because we have very severely weakened our bargaining position. For the record, I do have some direct experience in negotiating with the Commonwealth on the transfer or sale to the Territory of considerable assets that were in the hands of the Commonwealth. Unless things have changed, they have a few people down there in the Treasury and the Department of Finance who like to build careers on pulling off coups. It just does not seem to me to have been very smart to have done it in the order that we have done it.

I am also concerned that, although we are spending a considerable amount of money at the elite level of sport, there are other priorities within this budget, quite outside the Minister's purview, that seem not to have had the same degree of consideration. Some of those, like the arts, have been laboured to the point that I do not need to repeat any detail.

I am concerned that in the operation of sport we maintain the level of funding to sport at the grassroots and that we have a focus on participative sport for everybody, as firm a focus as we have on elite sports. I recognise that elite sports prompt participation. From elite sports we gain role models who not only draw people into sport but draw young people into the pursuit of excellence within sport. However, we still have to ensure that within the realm of sport we do not deprive those at the bottom of facilities or do not have a disproportionate focus on the provision of facilities.

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