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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3496

Mr HALE (3:43 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Sport and Minister for Youth. Will the minister update the House on the impacts of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan on Australian sport?

Ms KATE ELLIS (Minister for Youth and Minister for Sport) —I thank the member for Solomon and acknowledge his deep commitment to both jobs and sport. As the parliament would be well aware by now, this government committed $800 million to the biggest ever one-off investment in community infrastructure as part of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan. As the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government again very articulately pointed out today, we know that this plan is delivering for local communities—it is building local infrastructure and it is supporting local jobs.

The good news is that that is not all; there is more that this plan is doing. It is encouraging Australians of all ages to be fit, to be healthy and to be active. I am very pleased to be able to inform the House today that, in addition to delivering much needed support for our economy, this program has provided a historic and a massive injection into Australian community sport. This program has provided almost $300 million for upgrading, redeveloping and building new sports facilities and infrastructure in communities right around Australia, and we on this side of the House know that that is worthy. We know that investment in sporting infrastructure is important in removing a barrier to participation in sport and rec. We want to be a strong supporter of the Australian sports system, all the way from grassroots community sports up to elite sports and the podiums. So across a range of sports right across Australia there will be improved community clubs, enhanced facilities and new infrastructure while supporting Australian jobs.

Last week I had the opportunity to see firsthand the impact of some of these projects. I note that I was with the member for Page when we announced $3.4 million to build a brand new aquatic centre in Evans Head. In meeting with some of the local residents—local residents who, I must say, have campaigned for years and years for this project—I noted their delight in knowing that this project would become a reality. I would like to share the comments of just one of the local constituents of the member for Page, Mrs Shirley Dawson. She pulled me aside and said to me: ‘I would like you to thank the government for this funding. We know that it is important for the community. But also I like to go swimming, and this means that long into my old age when I can no longer drive I will be able to swim my laps and make sure that I stay active.’ This is just one example of how this program is also benefiting health and benefiting the preventative health agenda.

I also had the opportunity, along with the member for Wakefield and the Mayor of Salisbury, to announce funding of over $4.4 million for the north-west sector sports ground development. I would like to share with the House the comments of some of the local councillors, who said that at the moment they are quite literally turning away hundreds of young members of the community who want to play soccer but are unable to because of inadequate facilities. This means that these kids can be active and can take part in using the sporting facilities, which we all know is very important.

So, while those opposite may choose opportunistically to try and jump into photo ops now despite the fact that they stood in this parliament and voted against these local community initiatives, we know that this program is a massive boost for Australia’s grassroots sporting facilities and it is also a great thing for our economy, a great thing for our local communities and a great thing for community sport.

Mr Rudd —I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.