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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1445 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

trilogy of rugby playing cities in this country-Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra-get an Australian game here.

Ms MacDonald has based her great initiative on the "Wanna be a Wallaby" campaign. I think that is a very smart move. It really strikes a chord with people who know about that campaign and understand what it was trying to achieve. They understand the passion and the emotion associated with young boys wanting to be senior Australian players. The world cup will give young Canberrans in particular the opportunity to see their heroes play.

My preference would be for an Australia/Ireland game or an Australian/England game. However, it would be tremendous to see some of the other established teams such as the French, Italians, Scots or Welsh play here. It would be tremendous to see the Kiwis play here. Events such as this help to keep the fires burning for junior sport. I think we all have concerns about the fitness of our kid. We need to make sure that they all get the opportunities they deserve. They need to be encouraged to participate and to get out and play.

We have the infrastructure here to hold world cup games. The Brumbies' management is doing particularly well. They were well supported by the previous Liberal government in this place and I would urge the current government to continue that support so that our kids can watch people that they can aspire to emulate. Elite sport often gets a bit of a bagging. We are told that we should not be just looking at elite sport. However, I suspect you have to take into account the whole spectrum and you need the inspiration that is provided by elite sport. Whether our juniors live in Curtin or Calwell, they need to have their heroes.

Canberra has a Super 12 team that I suspect many people thought would not do well or would not survive. I think they were all stunned when we did so well. The Kookaburras did well until they got kicked out of the Sydney comp. The Vikings are now doing very well in the Brisbane comp. What all this says is that Canberra is a rugby powerhouse. Our base and our strength is our juniors. Our kids can move up through the ranks and eventually play for a team like the Brumbies in front of their home crowd.

So we need to be working towards being given the great opportunity of Canberra hosting world cup games. We have got the Brumbies and we have got the infrastructure in Canberra Stadium. What people may not know is that at the Vikings facility at Wanniassa we have one of the top-rated playing surfaces in Australia-indeed, somebody told me they thought it was in the top 10 of playing surfaces in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a spectacular surface.

The Valley Vikings are to be congratulated for the way they plough their money back into the community. They do lots of general work as well, such as supporting schools. Everywhere you go you see representatives of the Vikings handing out money on behalf of the club. They have poured a lot of money back into rugby and they have a wonderful facility. So we do not just have Canberra Stadium. We have world-class backup facilities that can be used by any team that wants to station itself in Canberra. Visiting teams might learn a little from our locals teams and I am sure that we would be looking to learn a little bit from them as well.

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