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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2530

Senator NEWMAN(8.32) —I wish to raise a couple of matters concerning the Department of Sport, Recreation and Tourism. Both of them relate to my State. The first matter concerns the national sports facilities program. This program provides for national venues of great quality in different States. In Tasmania a hockey facility has already been produced at Cornelian Bay, which is going very well and, I believe, according to plan. The one that I want to raise tonight is the netball facility at Hoblers Bridge. During the Estimates committee hearings I asked questions about this facility. I was very concerned at the answer I received, namely, that this facility was not included in the funding for this financial year and would not now receive money until next year.

The national sports facilities program is funded on a dollar for dollar basis. In this case Tasmania is supposed to contribute the sum of $635,000 and the Commonwealth is also supposed to contribute $635,000. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth has not provided money for the project in this financial year, Tasmania will be required to meet all the costs of the project this year. Because of the present high interest rates, thanks to this Government's economic management, Tasmania is meeting an exceptionally high load for a State with such a small population. The answer which I received during the Estimates committee hearing was that only $7m was appropriated this year and that those moneys were divided amongst the projects that had started. I was told that it was probably news to the Department that the netball facility had been started four or five months ago, which was the time when the decisions about the Budget were taken. I was also told that a number of projects around the country would be funded next year rather than this year and this project was one of those. I do not think that is good enough. I think it is quite disgraceful.

The Tasmanian Government wrote to the Commonwealth on 13 May this year, indicating that work had commenced, setting out the details of the project, giving information about the tenders and expected date of completion. I must ask: Is this another example of Tasmania getting a raw deal from this Labor Government, or is it a case of inefficiency in the Department? Either way, will this situation be rectified? Will the Tasmanian project, which was properly documented and done according to the requirements, be reinstated and paid for by the Commonwealth in this financial year, or is that how the Government deals with its lack of money due to poor management?

I will raise a second matter, seeing that the Minister is still asleep, and ask him to reply to both matters at the end of my remarks. The second matter also concerns Tasmania. I refer to the national cycling satellite of the Australian Institute of Sport. The Australian Institute of Sport is attempting to set up satellites for various specialty sports around Australia. I understand, from public statements that the Minister has made, that the decision as to the cycling satellite has not yet been taken. Nevertheless, during the Estimates committee hearings it was quite clear from the evidence that was given by the departmental officers that the Minister had already stated a preference, that he had made it quite clear that he preferred Adelaide, and that the decision would be taken on the basis of government to government relationships. That is a very bureaucratic way of saying that it will be based on a political consideration. The Minister was concerned that I should not put that connotation on it. But I can see no way of putting any other connotation on it.

Let us look at the items which must be considered when deciding why a cycling institute would be sited in any one location. The General Manager of the Institute of Sport said that the only covered velodrome in Australia was in Tasmania and that it was an absolutely magnificent facility. There is no doubt that it is the best velodrome in Australia. Nevertheless, for reasons of government to government relationships, the Government will make the decision in favour of Adelaide. The board of management of the Institute of Sport is keen to move quickly. It wants it to be up and running in February. A new velodrome will have to be built in Adelaide, if it is to be sited there. Adelaide does not have a velodrome of the standard that is required for a national cycling institute. Nevertheless, for reasons of government to government relationships, it looks as though the Minister will site it in Adelaide.

Two or three years ago the Tasmanian Government, in a magnificent submission to the Federal Government, recommended that it be placed in Tasmania and offered to host a cycling unit in our State. It has recently renewed that offer. The position of the national coach was not regarded as being a matter of prime concern. If it were, one would be moving the institute around the place every time a coach resigned. The presence of the South Australian Sports Institute and a good science and medical back-up, seemed to weigh in favour of it. But let me list the things that Tasmania has. As I said, it has the very best velodrome in Australia. It has the only covered velodrome in Australia.

Senator Walsh —Who paid for that?

Senator NEWMAN —It is up and running. I am glad that Senator Walsh asked who paid for it. The Commonwealth did contribute to it. I must ask: Would the taxpayers relish the thought of paying for another one in Adelaide? The Tasmanian State Institute of Technology is co-operating with the newly established Tasmanian Institute of Sport. We have sports medicine facilities. We have campuses for academic facilities in the tertiary education areas for cyclists who wish to complete their education. The Tasmanian Institute of Sport is headed by Rick Mitchell, an Olympic silver medallist. We have physical education and applied science staff at the TSIT and they are available to supply additional skills to the TIS.

Since this matter has become public, the Minister has been saying things like `Adelaide has marvellous hilly country in which to ride a bike and do road work'. I think it looks as though the Minister has not been to Launceston. We have some of the most marvellous hilly roads for road races that one could possibly imagine. We also have an off road, open road race track so that road training can be conducted away from traffic. We have everything possible, ready to go right now. I have to ask: Why it is that for government to government relationships the decision looks like favouring Adelaide? Can the Minister tell me that? Can he explain to the people of Tasmania why they, as taxpayers, and the rest of the taxpayers of Australia, have to contribute to yet another world class cycling velodrome when one is up and ready? If the Government wants it up, ready and running by February, it can have it-but not in Adelaide?