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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 580

Senator LEWIS(3.34) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I commend the annual report of the Australian Institute of Sport and the progress made by this Fraser Government initiative. However, I wish to refer to two of the aims and objectives of this body. The first aim is to promote, provide, encourage and develop opportunities for Australians to pursue and to achieve excellence in sport and activities associated with sport; and the second is to provide equipment and conduct laboratories and other research facilities designed to assist in the pursuit of excellence in sport or in activities related to sport.

What concerns me is that the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) has apparently decided to reduce funding for the location of other sports centres of excellence in the Australian Capital Territory on the grounds that Canberrans have more sporting facilities than the people of other cities. He fails to understand that the Australian Institute of Sport was proposed, as the objectives set out, as a centre of excellence for the whole of Australia, not just for Canberra. In fact, Canberrans come about eighth in line for the Institute's use. This is an Australian facility of international standing with accommodation and scholarships being provided to encourage Australians, particularly young Australians, with the necessary potential to develop to international standards in sport. The Minister apparently either seems totally to misunderstand the whole purpose of the Institute or is determined simply to mislead the public and engage in cheap Canberra bashing as a matter of political expedience. Then again, perhaps like many of his colleagues, he does not believe in any sort of excellence, treating that as being elitism.

I hope I will not be misunderstood. Clearly, where there are existing facilities of international or near-international standards in other locations, their use is logical. But what I am talking about is the establishment of new centres of sporting excellence which this Government now proposes to locate outside Canberra and not in Canberra in association with the Australian Institute of Sport. I suggest to the Senate that any such proposals should be subjected to searching scrutiny and they should be accompanied by detailed financial impact statements indicating the costs involved in locating these facilities away from the Australian Institute of Sport in the Australian Capital Territory.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Townley) —Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired.