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Wednesday, 15 June 2005
Page: 207

Mr McGAURAN (Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) (4:57 PM) —I am a little unfamiliar with the procedures of the Main Committee in the 12 months that have expired since I was last here, but I am rather impressed by this opportunity for members to directly put their questions before they leave the chamber and get a reply.

Mr Griffin —There’s another bill downstairs!

Mr McGAURAN —I presume it is not meant to be a repeat of the estimates hearing. The honourable member has just read out at some length an exchange in the Senate estimates between the Minister for the Arts and Sport and his inquisitors. I can hardly add to that. I do not know what I am supposed to reveal to the Main Committee that the minister was not able to reveal in the Senate estimates. However, we will of course refer the Hansard to him for further consideration. As I listened to it, it seemed very foreign to my understanding and notions of the government’s tough on drugs in sport policies.

We are funding all aspects of detection and oversight in a way that has not been done before. We had a 2004 election commitment to Building Australian Communities Through Sport, which outlined a number of measures to strengthen our drugs in sport policy by committing a further $13.5 million over the next four years for improved drug testing, advocacy, education and research initiatives. Under that policy the Australian Sports Drug Agency will receive $9.2 million. This includes $6.4 million for its drug testing program and $2.7 million for its education, communication and advocacy services. The honourable member made special mention of a lack of research funding, whereas I understand that we have set aside nearly $2 million for anti-doping research and to meet Australia’s financial commitment to the World Anti-Doping Agency of about $350,000.

I refer to one other matter, and I was slow to rise to my feet. The honourable member asked me about Newcastle stadium or oval, which I am not personally familiar with. What I want to know is this: where are the local members? Why do we have the shadow minister for sport posing these questions when the people of Newcastle and the Hunter region should be able to depend on their Labor members? I would suggest that the Labor members pursue this matter a little bit more vigorously than by mere grandstanding in the Main Committee room. I know that the Penrith stadium received some $10 million and that Whitten Oval in Melbourne—a Labor held electorate—received $8 million. It is true, as the Prime Minister said, that the Commonwealth infrequently—even rarely—gets involved with capital expenditure of this kind, but as to the particular progress of anything to do with the Newcastle oval or stadium I suggest that the local members earn their keep.