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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3075 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

and Phillip. The Government has indicated that it has a certain amount of money available, which amount members will observe from the budget figures. That is well known to both bodies, and they are looking at ways in which those two grounds can be developed.

One ground may well be developed more than the other. I note with interest, Mr Kaine, an article in last Saturday's Canberra Times by Di Lloyd. That article indicated that they were very close. My recollection of it was that Phillip was preferred by Australian rules although certain aspects of Manuka were still being looked at. The article finished by saying that Mr John Livy, CEO of the AFL New South Wales and ACT Commission, will be reporting to government in the next month. If that article is correct, I would anticipate a report in December.

As I said some time ago to Mr Quinlan, initially we were hoping to get by late September or early October a report by Mr Livy and his committee on the way ahead for those two grounds. I think that was probably unrealistic. He told both the Chief Minister and me that on about 6 August. He said that in six to eight weeks' time he hoped to have a report. He indicated to me when I saw him last at the Rams' annual function several Fridays ago that it had been delayed but that they were very keen to get the process right. I think Di Lloyd might have been a bit premature in what she said, but she quoted Mr Livy as saying that they were going to get a report to government in December.

I look forward to seeing that report. As I indicated earlier to Mr Quinlan, I am not particularly concerned that they have taken a little longer than they thought. I think it is important that the sports that will be using those grounds get it right. I think it is particularly important when we are talking about such things as night cricket and when the Comets are going quite well in their second season in the Mercantile Cup and really establishing themselves as a force and promoting Canberra. It is pleasing to see the AFL commit itself in a very real way to being involved in the process of developing grounds and developing the code in Canberra, especially when one considers the concern in Australian football ranks at the March report by the AFL, which seemed to indicate a greater emphasis on Sydney. Some people were concerned that they were drawing back from the ACT.

More recent events indicate that they seem to have a commitment to develop the code here. When the Government gets that report - it will be what the codes themselves see as the staged development of those ovals - hopefully we can then move on to more regular quality Australian football games than in the past.

MR KAINE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. That background is interesting, Minister, but given the positive steps that the Government takes in fostering other brands of sport with considerable investments in some and considerable investment in facilities and resources for others, I would hope that the Government itself is taking some positive steps to foster Australian football here with a view to getting a national team here rather than just relying on the AFL to make its decisions in a much broader context. Is the Government doing anything positive? Does it have any positive initiatives to establish Australian football as a substantive sport here with a team in the national competition just as we have in almost every other brand of sport?

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