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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 3180

Mr WENTWORTH (MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct my question to the Minister for Tourism and Recreation. Does he agree that Australians have a long tradition of horsemanship, running from the stockman to 'The man from Snowy River', the Light Horse and beyond? Does he realise that, while the racing tradition is still vigorous, the majority of urban Australians have lost touch with the remainder of this tradition so that many city children have not even had the opportunity to touch a horse, much less ride one? Does he agree that it would be desirable if these older Australian associations with the horse were maintained and made more readily available, especially to city children from less affluent families? Will he also agree that the maintenance of this Australian tradition would add significantly to recreation opportunities for people of all ages and that it would be a significant tourist attraction? Finally, as a worthwhile gesture to mark the wedding of the Princess Anne, will the Minister support a proposal for the immediate setting up of a small committee of this House to devise and recommend means of achieving these objectives?

Mr STEWART (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Tourism and Recreation) - I must admit that I do not know a great deal about horse riding The honourable member finished his question by asking for a committee to investigate the subject of encouraging horse riding in Australia to commemorate the forthcoming wedding of Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne. Perhaps .the question would have been better addressed to Princess Anne but I have a feeling that she will be too preoccupied for the next few days at least to send an answer to the honourable member. It is true that horse racing and horse riding in Australia have featured quite significantly in our poems. Perhaps one of our national days could be Melbourne Cup Day. There are so many aspects of equestrian events that it is difficult at the moment to decide which way to go. For instance, Sydney is trying to get the 1988 Olympic Games but one of the rules of the International Olympic Federation is that all events must be held in the one city and because of Australia's quarantine laws that appears impossible. Polo, for instance, is a game that is followed generally by the big business people of Australia. I imagine that the honourable member indulged in it in his younger days. I have not noticed many process workers or wharfies indulging in that game.

To be serious, before the Department of the Capital Territory at the moment is a proposal to establish a national equestrian centre on a 200-acre site in Canberra. My Department is consulting with the Department of the Capital Territory. I think that the Department of Tourism and Recreation will make some contribution to the establishment of that equestrian centre, but the main costs, naturally, will be borne by the Department of the Capital Territory. My Department also has received a request from a pony club in Toronto, New South Wales, and another from a pony club in Tasmania, for assistance in equestrian activities. These matters and all aspects of recreation are under serious consideration by my Department at the present time and decisions will be taken as soon as possible.

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