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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1433 ..

Leave of absence

Motion (by Mr Wood ) agreed to:

That leave of absence be given to Mr Hargreaves for the period 11 May 2002 to 27 May 2002 inclusive.

Rugby world cup-matches in Canberra

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Ms MacDonald and Mr Pratt proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion. Ms MacDonald's matter of public importance, which was drawn by lot as is required by the standing orders, is:

The importance to the Canberra community, Australian rugby, ACT sporting teams and ACT Tourism of Canberra's appointment as a Wallaby venue.

MS MacDONALD (3.40): Mr Speaker, I am today bringing this matter of public importance to the Assembly's attention for a variety of reasons. While Canberra rugby fans and sport fans generally will be eager to see the world champion Wallabies play a world cup game in Canberra during next year's tournament, there are a variety of other reasons that are really at the forefront of my mind when I discuss this issue.

I was extremely happy for Australia when the International Rugby Board (IRB) announced that they were accepting the bid by Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to be sole host of the 2003 world cup. While we were to get the lion's share of games as co-host with New Zealand, the complications that eventually saw the New Zealand Rugby Union unable to meet IRB requirements handed Australia another 23 games and sole-host status.

For those that are unaware of the situation, the New Zealand Rugby Union failed to guarantee a "clean stadia"-that is, grounds free of advertising and sponsorship-so that the IRB are able to control all ground advertising during the tournament. There were also other complications, such as the New Zealand Rugby Union's desire to play their local final series whilst the world cup was being conducted. Despite the IRB's rigid guidelines, the New Zealand bid was given tremendous leeway and the IRB was flexible on many points. The inability to provide "clean stadia" really saw the downfall of New Zealand's co-host status.

The Australian Rugby Union, through its concerted negotiations with local authorities around Australia, however, met every whim and requirement of the world cup organisers. For that, I congratulate them. They have shown professionalism and dedication to bringing this wonderful tournament to our shores. When it became obvious that New Zealand was falling into difficulties, ARU boss, John O'Neill, and his team swung into action and ensured that the world cup was Australia's alone.

Australian rugby fans are over the moon and Canberra rugby fans are salivating at the thought of some of the world's best teams playing here in the ACT. While it has been announced that Canberra's world cup assignment is likely to be about four games, it

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