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Tuesday, 19 March 1985
Page: 443

Senator PETER RAE(10.30) —I take this opportunity to speak briefly in relation to an important aspect of Australia's national development, that is, in regard to the development of the Australian Institute of Sport and certain facilities related to that body. Part of the former coalition Government's program was for the development of international standard facilities in various parts of Australia and for assistance to be given by the Commonwealth Government with regard to the development of those facilities. They were to be located in places, firstly, where there was an appropriateness to the venue; secondly, where there was local support for the venue; and, thirdly, where there was a preparedness on the part of the particular State government concerned to play a part in developing the facilities.

In relation to my State of Tasmania, three facilities were developed by the State Government with the assistance of the Commonwealth Government as a result of that program which was first announced in 1980 and which was developed in the period that followed. Tasmania now proudly boasts-I think I can use those words-an international standard cycling velodrome which, if it is not one of the best in the world, starts to go into a higher category than that. It is a fully enclosed velodrome. It is not inappropriate that it be located in Launceston because that has been a centre of the sport of cycling for many years and many of Australia's most famous cyclists have come from that area.

It was therefore more than passing strange that, at a recent meeting of the Australian Amateur Cycling Federation, it was decided that it was in favour of the building of a new velodrome in Adelaide as an alternative to the use of the velodrome which had been constructed in Launceston, with the use of a great deal of State money and a substantial contribution from the Commonwealth. It has just recently been opened and it is generally acknowledged, as I have said, as being of the highest possible standard. This decision caused very considerable concern not only in relation to that matter of cycling but also in relation to the general concept of the development of facilities of an international standard in various parts of Australia and their utilisation, appropriately, by the Australian Institute of Sport.

Also, keeping to the matter of my own State, I would like to refer to the fact that also developed was the Lake Barrington rowing course. Any honourable senator who had the pleasure of watching the last King's Cup on television or even watching it in person would know that one of the prettiest and most beautiful sights for rowing that could be imagined-I am sure that Senator Aulich would agree with me-is the new Lake Barrington international standard course. The facilities were generally praised by everyone who attended and participated. Also constructed in Tasmania as part of this development of international standard facilities was a baseball diamond at Kingston. It was certainly the expectation and the desire of people in Tasmania, whose taxes went into the construction of these facilities along with Commonwealth funds, that due recognition would be given to this fact. Prior to the last election the Liberal Party of Australia stated in relation to its policy for Tasmania:

Acknowledging that with the assistance of our former Liberal Government's international standards sporting facilities program, the Tasmanian Government has developed Australia's premier rowing course at Lake Barrington, we shall endeavour to ensure that the Australian Institute of Sport recognises the opportunity so presented and takes advantage of it.

The Liberal Party's policy also stated:

If assistance is necessary to enable them to do so, then we shall consider such assistance. We shall also endeavour to have both the Launceston Cycling Velodrome and the Kingston Baseball Diamond properly utilised in a similar way.

That is a policy which I believe to be rational, reasonable and appropriate. I hope that a similar attitude is adopted by the present Government because a further situation which has developed is that following the decision by the Australian Amateur Cycling Federation that it would prefer to have new funds spent on the attempted creation of a suitable velodrome in Adelaide rather than the utilisation of the existing brand new, fully covered-in velodrome in Launceston, the Director of the Australian Institute of Sport, Dr John Cheffers, commented on this matter. He has also visited Tasmania and inspected the velodrome. He has indicated that, as far as the Board of the Australian Institute of Sport was concerned, it supported the choice of the Launceston velodrome as the Australian Institute of Sport's centre for the development of amateur cycling.

It has now been indicated that this matter will be referred to the Federal Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism, Mr John Brown, who will make the decision as to where the permanent headquarters for cycling will be. I trust that my Tasmanian colleagues from the other side of the chamber will join with me in ensuring that Mr Brown is left in no doubt as to where the most suitable facilities are to be found and the appropriateness of the Launceston velodrome, as supported by the Australian Institute of Sport and by those who participated last weekend in creating a new world record there and in engaging in a very successful competition.

Virtually everyone, except the Australian coach, Mr Charlie Walsh, who thinks the facility should be in Adelaide, wants to retain the Launceston velodrome. Apparently he was able to persuade some of his colleagues on the Australian Amateur Cycling Federation that it ought to be in his home city. If ever there were a more incredible and unjustifiable proposition for a total waste of public funds it would be to duplicate what has been built under a Commonwealth-State program. It is in no way questioned as being the most appropriate site by the people who matter-that is, the Australian Institute of Sport.

I trust that we can look forward to the support of honourable senators from all sides of the chamber in making sure that the ultimate decision to be made by the Minister will be in favour of that centre for cycling for the Australian Institute of Sport. Further, I trust that there will be similar support for the recognition of Lake Barrington as the premier, international rowing course in Australia and the utilisation of the Kingston baseball diamond, similarly constructed to premier international standards, as a place of which all Australians can be proud and where it is appropriate for primary international participation to be able to take place. I look forward to receiving some indication of support for the views which I have expressed and, as soon as possible, some response from the Minister because of the concern which has been raised as a result of the rather extraordinary views expressed by Mr Charlie Walsh and by the Australian Amateur Cycling Federation.