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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3915

Mr MARLES (CorioParliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs) (09:47): Some months ago I spoke in this House about a fantastic sporting event which occurred in the Geelong region earlier this year. As I said at the time, the Surf Coast Knockout was a major sporting coup for the Geelong region. The PGA event was a trailblazer in terms of its format and was a real treat for the 4,000 or so spectators to see top-class golfers play a faster paced knockout competition. There was also another benefit to Geelong and the region. The Surf Coast Knockout was screened live on free-to-air television for five hours on its final day—that is, five hours of national coverage of our region on prime time television. There is the chance for this to become an annual part of Australia's sporting calendar with the same coverage of our region each and every year.

Throughout that afternoon of TV, we were treated to panoramic shots of the Bellarine Peninsula, Torquay and the Surf Coast, along with constant references to the Geelong region. It was a marketer's dream. Like the UCI Road World Championships held in Geelong last year, our beautiful region was shown in all its eye-catching glory but I saw a missed potential in this event. Locally, the knockout was seen as a Surf Coast event, not as a Geelong region event, because the course on which the Surf Coast Knockout was played lay outside the City of Greater Geelong's municipal boundary. Of course, the benefits of staging and televising the knockout had the potential to be shared by the whole region. This highlights the problem of not having a regional major events process in the Geelong region—that is, a process or body that would drive regional events to benefit the entire region, not just the single municipality in which they are being staged. Spectators do not just come from one municipality. Visitors do not stay in the hotels of just one town. Most importantly, TV coverage is naturally inclined to showcase the entire region in which we live, and that is worth its weight in gold to all the municipalities of all the G21 region.

Moreover, organisations that contribute to the events through sponsorship and through contribution of their products or skills come from across the region as well. So it makes sense that as a region we develop the capacity to make decisions about major events which have a regional footprint delivering a regional benefit. The place for this process to be developed, in my view, is G21. As the body which brings together the five municipalities of our region, it is the ideal organisation to take the lead. It already serves the role of articulating region-wide plans in many different areas of public policy on behalf of its five local governments. Why not have G21 do the same in relation to region-wide major events?