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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2230 ..

MR QUINLAN (9.45): Mr Speaker, I rise to address the area of sport and to express disappointment that there appears to be a $1m drop in the expenditure on sport, although some of it is explained by a transfer of funds. The sum of $440,000 has been subsumed into one of the few growth areas in the public sector in the ACT - policy advice to Ministers. While the public sector is shrinking, it is somewhat reassuring to know that there is at least one growth area, that is, the area that provides service to Ministers. Given the events of the last 12 months, you would have to say to yourself that there is an increasing need for that form of assistance. Nevertheless, there is in a relatively small budget a reduction of over $0.5m.

There is within the budget for the ACT Academy of Sport a reduction of 50 athletes on scholarships, a drop from 340 to 290, which is a very significant number. This is happening in the year leading up to the Olympic Games. This is happening in a year when we are happy to spend megabucks on the hoopla side of the Year 2000, on the actual event that we are having here. I have to hark back to estimates at this point. Previous to estimates we were told via the media that Olympic football within the ACT was going to be worth $200m of exposure. One would naturally ask how that $200m is made up. In fact, we did not get a straight answer at all; the Government backed away from that claim that had been made for the general public, backing away in the relative obscurity of an estimates hearing.

In the estimates hearing, given that we are ploughing this sort of money into Year 2000 events in soccer, I asked what basis we used for that. I asked whether the Government had any facts as to the increased tourism for Atlanta. They had the Olympics. Not only did Atlanta have Olympics; they had out-cities that hosted football. To the first question, "Do we have any figures from Atlanta as to the increased tourism activities as a function of the Olympics in Atlanta?", there were blank looks, people were looking over their shoulders and shoulders were being shrugged, but I received nothing. Then I asked, "Could anybody in the room advise us of one of the cities out of Atlanta that hosted football?", seeing as at the Atlanta Olympics there were out-cities like Canberra is going to be. I said, "Could you just name one of the cities?". The answer was no.

I am rather disappointed that we have focused so much on Olympic football, at the same time reducing our effort in sport, particularly for the ACT academy as there is a distinct possibility that the AIS will shrink, given all the facilities at Homebush. We have not tried to reinforce sport in the ACT, as opposed to having a good time and going to all the good events that will be associated with the Olympics in 2000.

I cannot leave sport, while I have Minister Bill here, without making reference to Bruce Stadium. Bill, as you are a member of Cabinet, one has to ask: How could you get so deeply into the financial mire with Bruce Stadium when you had not actually made arrangements for ownership or long-term leasing of the stadium? As we have done to some extent at Acton, we have laid ourselves at the mercy of the Federal Government in terms of what they can hit us for in relation to commercial rent that we will have to pay or a valuation on the stadium. We are doing it up. We have done the whole thing up. Now we are going to the Commonwealth and saying, "We would like to keep it for a long while because we need to run it for 30 years". I think that is the timeframe. I would reckon that it would have to be about 50, 60 or 70 years before we could actually make a return on it, because we have just spent so much money.

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