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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3196 ..

MR PRATT (4.17): Mr Speaker, I would like to announce my support for Mr Stefaniak's matter of public importance. I do so as shadow spokesman for education and youth and intend to focus on some of the social aspects of the needs to keep our ovals and that infrastructure in good shape. Canberra's sporting fields are a long-term investment. Short-term savings in maintenance equals long-term damage and destruction to an important piece of our social infrastructure.

Mr Stefaniak's concerns are justified, and I congratulate him for presenting his concern to the Assembly. Canberra is a sports loving community and has a high percentage of sportsmen and women per capita compared to the national average. Mr Speaker, to deny the community its sporting fields, if we took it to its full, logical conclusion, through administrative and bureaucratic neglect and the short-sighted initiative to perhaps save on budgetary matters would, I think, be unacceptable.

Community sport is an integral pillar in society. It adds value to the fabric of the community and, of course, it does something to contribute to increasing our health maintenance in the community as well. Community sport is an important cement in community and cultural cohesion. Our sporting ovals, therefore, are a major element of one of the integral components in our society. The health of society is affected by issues such as community sport, access to sporting facilities and the condition of sporting fields.

Mr Speaker, an effective preventative health policy must be underwritten by a viable community sports program. The rate of obesity in the general community is alarming. Contributing to the prevention of this would be, Mr Speaker, a viable and valuable community sports program.

Mr Speaker, I am primarily concerned with the health of the minds and the bodies of our youth; the development of good health, balanced, positive minds and creative learning.

We know, Mr Speaker, that obesity is progressing at alarming rates in Australian society, and indeed we run second only to the United States in the obesity stakes. While there are a number of factors that contribute to obesity in society surely, Mr Speaker, the primary factor is the sedentary lifestyle that is now becoming second nature in our society. It is imperative that the ACT foster a strong sports regime, particularly focusing on youth during and after school.

Mr Speaker, all of our children, from a very early age, need to be pushed to the point of happy tiredness at school and at the weekend through engagement in sport and of course in PE at school; we need to drag them away from computers and televisions; we need to moderately push our children to their aerobic limits so that they develop sound health and stronger resistances to disease for later in life. It's an investment that kids make now if they get themselves fit, and they have to be guided by parents, by communities and by schools in putting those sorts of lifestyles in place.

Mr Speaker, as a community we need to encourage our children's development of their fine motor skills so as to encourage the pursuit of excellence or simply the pursuit of sporting pleasure and personal achievement. How can this come to fruition

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