Page 871 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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MR CORBELL: No, it is not true at all.

Sport and recreation—Kangaroos agreement

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Acting Minister for Sport and Recreation, Mr Stanhope. It is my understanding that the agreement between the AFL Kangaroos and the ACT is due for renewal at the end of this year. At a recent meeting of sport and recreation industry representatives at the University of Canberra concerns were raised about the future of a number of national sporting arrangements that are supported by the ACT. In particular, suggestions were made that the ACT government may not renew the agreement with the Kangaroos. Obviously, the discontinuation of the agreement would pose a threat to the Roos’ junior development program and to the prospects for Manuka Oval. Minister, will Canberra continue to have an association with the Kangaroos beyond the life of the current agreement?

MR STANHOPE: Indeed and absolutely, it is the government’s intention, absolute determination, to ensure that we maintain and retain our relationship with the Kangaroos and the ACT government will do everything that we possibly and feasibly can to ensure that the AFL and the Kangaroos continue to support and build on the fantastic relationship that has been developed over the last three years.

To suggest, as you have in your question, that the ACT government may not be interested or may not persist or pursue that is really to misunderstand the position, I think, in which we find ourselves in terms of some of the media speculation or some of the concern that has been expressed broadly about the prospect of the Kangaroos perhaps not returning to the ACT next year. If that is the case, it will be none of the ACT government’s doing and it will be none of the doing or responsibility of the ACTAFL clubs within the ACT or sport generally.

It has to be said that the AFL—not necessarily the Kangaroos as such, but the AFL—have a strategic plan in relation to future development of the game. I think that it has been clearly signalled for some time now that there is a view in Victoria, within the confines of the strategy and policy makers of the AFL, that there would be significant benefit in two teams being fielded in Queensland as well as an additional team in New South Wales. That has created some speculation around the vulnerability of a continued AFL presence in the ACT through the Kangaroos, and similarly for Launceston in relation to Hawthorn. I am hoping that some of those rumours and that speculation are not well placed. Certainly, it is our great hope that those rumours not come to fruition. Certainly, that is not what the ACT government wants.

We are negotiating now. Indeed, senior officers of sport and recreation travelled to Melbourne just last Friday for high-level, senior discussions with the AFL. It was not a negotiating session. It was a session to explore the expectations of the AFL in relation to issues around the renewal of the contract. Let me repeat that it is the ACT government’s absolute, firm, committed intention to renegotiate successfully the continuation of the Kangaroos in Canberra. The ACT government has taken no steps, nor will it, to signal that it is not absolutely and fully committed to the continued presence of the Kangaroos at Manuka Oval and within the Canberra scene.

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