Page 2247 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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things that have been done—things like Canberra stadium, the grandstand at Manuka oval, new Gungahlin college and a sanctuary at Tidbinbilla are all in the sport, tourism and recreation for the future press release. But there are a few things that it fails to mention. For instance, I will go through a few parts of the sport and rec budget.

This year’s appropriation for sport and rec still fails to take into account the real need for a response to the impact of drought on our playing fields. We have seen the minister’s Where will we play? document. It has become something of a joke, because it really still has no answers about where we will play. The first round of funding for the where will we play program, while directed at worthy causes, does not seem to have much impact on his statement that no sportsground will be entirely reliant on potable water by 2012.

He does not look as old and as craggy as Bob Hawke did when he said that no child would live in poverty by 2001—or 1991, it must have been. What we have got is this grand statement, but what we do not see are the resources and the wherewithal to back it up. The minister’s promise of more than one synthetic playing surface has resulted in a synthetic grass runway for the Belconnen model aero club, artificial area surfaces at the ACT Equestrian Association and just seed funding for the installation of a synthetic grass surface. While these projects are worthy, they are not nearly what Mr Barr promised on ABC radio, which was two new large-scale synthetic surfaces.

Further, this year’s appropriation includes just $500,000 for where will we play. This much flaunted initiative from the minister is worth just $500,000 of funding this year. Yes, there is money in the outyears—indeed $1.53 million and $3 million—but it is not happening this year because they are not sure, the minister is not sure, about how to put this in place. The minister has set himself up to fail on this strategy. It is clear that there is no real intention of drought proofing our sporting fields. This is just really about the short-term electoral future of this government.

This year we have seen the minister execute a backflip with a triple pike on several of the so-called necessary cuts from the 2006 slash and burn budget, particularly with the reinstatement of the sports loan subsidy scheme and the money going back into some other targeted programs. We have still yet to see the Costello review, we still need to see the full justification, and yet two short years after this seeming necessity to cut, to slash and burn, it is being slowly undone. Of course, what was fully taken has not been restored, and the bigger question is: what money has not been announced?

On radio a few weeks ago the minister announced that he was talking with Tennis ACT about upgrading their facilities, yet this number does not show up in the budget. The minister discussed more investment in the Bruce Stadium, yet this is nowhere in the budget. There is no money for Molonglo pool in the budget either and yet there he was talking to Tim Gavel about it. I just wonder how much more money will be found for sporting facilities between now and the election.

Sport and rec is a very important part of Canberra. There was a very strong foundation during the rapid expansion of the ACT in the sixties, where particularly sporting clubs and sporting facilities were built in response to a growing community. Unfortunately, what we have not got from this government, particularly from this minister, is the

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