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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1371 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

25 days and my inquiries with SOCOG reveal that the ACT is still excluded from the free transport zone. I understand that you did write to Mr Knight on 27 May last year. What was his reply? What follow-up did you employ to change his mind, and why is the ACT still excluded from the free transport zone?

MS CARNELL: Yes, I did write to him after you brought up this issue last time, Mr Rugendyke. The response was pretty typical, I seem to remember, but I will certainly find that response and make it available. I am very happy to follow up again with SOCOG and with the New South Wales Labor Minister.

Mr Speaker, I think it is unfair and unfortunate that the ACT has been left out of the free transport opportunities that exist to Sydney. I do not think that is a fair situation. We do have a transport strategy that is being worked up for the ACT as well. I am happy also to make information available to Mr Rugendyke with regard to what we are planning to do with buses and to ensure that people can get to the stadium easily and at limited or no charge.

We have also just started to promote Olympic soccer in Canberra into the region. I think the first approach has been to write to all soccer players and all soccer clubs in the region suggesting that they might like to come to Canberra to see Olympic soccer. Maybe there is some benefit in not having free transport, and that is, hopefully, all the people in the region will come to Canberra instead of going to Sydney. Maybe we should look on the bright side of anything.

MR RUGENDYKE: Thank you, Chief Minister. That was part of my supplementary question but I will change it to fit the original answer. Bearing in mind that we will have to fill Bruce Stadium to approximately 96 per cent capacity for every soccer game it hosts during the Olympics, would you be looking to provide free transport, as Sydney does, from our own region to Canberra and further afield to regions such as the Riverina and perhaps even Victoria?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, we are not looking at free transport outside the ACT, at least to my knowledge, but I will certainly follow up on that. We certainly are looking at an internal transport policy to get people from I suppose car parks and from areas around Canberra into the stadium to eliminate the need for driving.

I think one of the things about the Canberra Olympic option versus Sydney is that the costs of coming to Canberra and staying in Canberra are so much lower than in the case of Sydney. So already we have a very real financial advantage. People can come to Canberra, buy tickets, stay overnight and at the same time access quite a large number of other attractions in the ACT. When you look at the overall packages in Canberra, even with the cost of bus fares or whatever, they are still very attractive in comparison to Sydney.

Mr Rugendyke made a comment about the need to get 24,000 people to the stadium. I would be extremely disappointed if there are not 24,000 people in Canberra and the surrounding regions who are very keen to come to the stadium. In fact, I know that that is very much the case.

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