Page 749 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2006

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what other groups in the industry are saying. Maybe there will be some significant benefits you can get, rather than going down the path of further breaking up that little office, by putting some additional agencies into this one. Have regard to the views of ACTSPORT and the various players in the industry that it is a lot more efficient if perhaps all the various aspects of sport and rec in the ACT are dealt with under one banner in one department.

It is not going to be a department in its own right—no way! No-one is asking for that. But one way perhaps of getting significant efficiency in operation and effectively saving hours for people in the public service is having a one-stop shop, having it all under the one banner. That, obviously, is something that makes it so much easier for the tens of thousands of volunteers in the sport and recreation area in the ACT.

We have a positive here, for a change. There are probably some improvements you can make to the current structure. The fact is that in 2001 facilities were hived off from sport and rec. There were a number of other areas that people had to go through to get an answer from government, as indicated in the ACTSPORT submission. That can certainly be improved. I give you credit for putting the Canberra teams in national competitions in the sport and rec area. That was a good move. I believe that was under the business area of the former government. Even though I had significant input into exactly who got what, it was not in the sport and rec area. You put it in the correct area of government administrative structure.

In your functional review, you can probably improve the delivery of government services in a much more efficient way. I strongly counsel you against centralising your grants program, however. That has never proved to be efficient. Groups that should be getting money often miss out. What you need there, I suggest, is a much more efficient way of doing it. Some government departments might not be as efficient as they could be. To centralise it causes so many problems. You have a lot of opportunities here as well as the potential to really go off on an awful tangent and stuff things up monumentally. In an area like this, that would be absolutely crazy.

For a very small investment by government, the bang for your buck that you get back is huge. The health benefits, which have been mentioned by a number of speakers here today, are huge in our community. I have seen figures that show that, for every 10 per cent of our population that is more active, the health budget drops by 10 per cent. In New Zealand, doctors are prescribing various exercise regimes for patients as a way of getting them back to health. It is not rocket science; it is absolutely basic. It indicates that governments, if they are tempted to save a few hundred thousand dollars in areas like this, can often do so to their great detriment and it will cost them another 10 or 25 per cent down the track, if not more.

There are other areas of government, quite clearly, where you can save much more money—areas perhaps of your own creation. We have made a number of suggestions in the past. For example, as much as I like the idea of a prison that locks up in the ACT people who should be locked up, which can then rehabilitate them much better than has ever happened interstate, is that a can-have rather than a must-have? Is that something that, in hard economic times, should be deferred? A deferral of that would save us about $20 million recurrent a year.

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