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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2707 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

We are certainly participating in that review, and one would expect we would because we utilise to a very considerable extent the very significant facilities at the AIS, just by way of one example.

MR QUINLAN: Thank you very much for that, Minister. I am reassured. Are there any specific measures that the ACT can take post 2000 when there is the sudden availability of world-class facilities at Homebush and the attraction that they will be to a number of sports? Is there anything specific that the ACT is doing , or can do, to maintain the viability of the ACT campus of the Australian Institute of Sport?

MR STEFANIAK: As you are probably aware, we have always worked in very well with the AIS. We have an excellent relationship with the staff there. Our Academy of Sport has some excellent relationships and in fact complements the AIS. Indeed, we tend often to lose some of our talented athletes from the Academy of Sport who go on to programs in the AIS. I do not necessarily see that as a loss because it enhances their ability. They are effectively Canberra-based athletes to start with.

Apart from our links through the academy and the AIS, many Canberra sports utilise the facilities of the AIS, ranging from swimming groups who regularly utilise the pool, although to a lesser extent now, of course, because of the training requirements of Australia's athletes, through to various soccer groups. Veterans Athletics use the facilities of the AIS athletics track and other parts of the AIS. Indeed, all areas of ACT Athletics regularly utilise the facilities there. I would think there would be very few sports in the ACT which, at some stage or other, have not utilised the AIS, and that means that a fair number of our own sports people utilise those facilities. Certainly, I would be very concerned if there was any adverse effect as a result of this review in terms of the AIS or its facilities. I would hope that that would not be the case.

I think one of the biggest dangers that we face in Australian sport - I am certain that these are points which not only ourselves but other people also are putting forward in terms of this review - is that after the Olympics there might be a natural tendency to overly cut some areas of elite sport that perhaps have less emphasis on the AIS and some of these talented sports programs. Rather than do that, I think we need to keep a focus on those, but never to the detriment of grass roots sports. I think it is very important that we keep a focus on elite sport after the Olympics.

That is not to say that there would not be some programs which might not be performing terribly well which you might not want to continue. There might be new programs you want to put in, but I think it is terribly important that we do not lose the focus or drop the ball, as it were, after the Olympics. I think we have an ideal opportunity not only to use the Olympics to further enhance Australia's international sporting reputation and abilities but also, at the other end of the scale, to encourage more people into physical activity as a result of the hype that will come from the Olympics.

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