Page 841 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 April 2014

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Sport—crowd figures

MS LAWDER: Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the minister for sport. Minister, you are quoted in the Canberra Times of 7 April claiming that crowd figures to Canberra’s professional football codes have been inflated in previous years, leading to lower recorded numbers this year. Minister, on what do you base those assertions?

MR BARR: Advice from the venues. There was a practice prior to upgrading of ticketing facilities, certainly at Canberra stadium, for there to be a turnstile count and then a number added on top of that that reflected an estimation of the number of members or juniors, and potentially even people who just happened to be at work at the venue at the time, who were all included in crowd numbers.

I became aware of this and the discrepancy between the approach utilised at Manuka oval and the approach utilised at Canberra stadium. I sought advice from Territory Venues & Events, who manage both facilities, and asked for a consistent approach across the venues—that a turnstile count would be provided. With the upgrades to facilities at Canberra stadium, that certainly has allowed for greater accuracy in crowd numbers. I think the practice of inflating numbers was most prevalent during the super league era back in the 1990s, but it certainly continued until about three years ago.

There is now a greater level of sophistication in relation to ticketing arrangements for the venues. I think we can be confident that we now have a much more accurate count of those who attend events at both venues.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.

MS LAWDER: Minister, have you had any sporting groups or clubs contact you with a differing view about the numbers?

MR BARR: I have certainly had a number of people who are regular attendees at events at both venues comment at times about the unbelievability of figures now compared to before, and have wondered why it is that crowd numbers are somewhat lower now than they were previously. In their assessment, having attended hundreds of events at the respective venues, they did not think there was that much of a difference between the crowd numbers. Undoubtedly, with the new technology, we are in a better position to be able to have an accurate count. I think that is in the interests of the users of the facility. Also, in the context of media comparisons regarding attendance at various events, you want honesty in crowd numbers.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, what connection has a campaign about lower crowd numbers at the GIO Stadium with your dream for a new indoor facility?

MR BARR: There is no doubt that football codes are competing with a variety of other forms of entertainment for the consumer dollar. They are also competing with a vastly improved product on offer in terms of the pay television broadcasts of specific

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