I support the Address in Reply and join Honourable Members in thanking His Excellency the Governor in opening this third session of the 51st parliament.
We are supportive of the Governor’s work and know that he is doing an excellent job.
Now, as my colleague the Hon Caroline Schaefer pointed out in her contribution – we all expected more from this government on this occasion but yet again it has failed to deliver.
Perhaps if the Government’s outline for the next session was prepared before The Advertiser opinion poll on the weekend – it would have contained more exciting news for the electorate.
Not that we are too concerned by polls on this side of the chamber – we’re fully aware that the only poll that counts is on election day in March 2010, but I could understand if our populist Premier may be in a bit of a panic.
In truth – the Rann Government’s legislative program for this next session is a major disappointment. It is underwhelming.
We had the usual rhetoric about climate change and the plight of the Murray but very little substance.
There was no mention of how this Government will tackle the challenges we face as a result of the national economic slowdown.
This was truly a legislative program from a Government that is tired, stale and lacks vision. We have said this for some time now and this latest program confirms our view.
I hear Government members opposite try to talk up the Government’s achievements in their contributions to the Governor’s speech but it’s almost like they’re apologising for the lack of action.
The Hon Russell Wortley puffed out his chest and made ridiculous comments like “You have turned your back on your rural electorates” – this comes from a Government that has neglected regional South Australia over the last six and a half years.
We need only reflect on the response to the proposed country health cuts to see that country people are fed up with how they’ve been treated by Premier Rann and his Government.
Ask country people who rely on the River Murray for their livelihoods what they think of this Government.
I say to the Hon Russell Wortley that it is your Government which has turned its back on regional SA and the majority of country people cannot wait to throw you out.
I will leave it to some of my other colleagues to give their response to the overall legislative program because as Shadow Spokesperson for Sport – I wish to reflect on what the next 18 months holds for the sport portfolio in this state, in particular grass roots sport.
Its clear there’s very little to be excited about. It’s millions of bucks for AAMI Stadium, a big screen at Hindmarsh Stadium and that about does it.
In the State Strategic Plan, Target T2.3 is to exceed the Australian average for participation in sport and physical activity by 2014.
In my view the target is a credible one and the Government has not put an actual figure on how much it wants to exceed the Australian national average so at this stage I’m hopeful we can get there.
For the record, the latest statistics report the current national average for participation in physical activity three times per week or more (for people aged 15 years and over) is 42.8% and South Australia had the lowest rate at 38.6%.
The Strategic Plan Progress Report (July 2008) details that progress is “steady.” The report maintains that the target is still achievable and as spokesperson for sport I sincerely hope it is achieved.
Research on participation levels is conducted by the Standing Committee on Recreation and Sport Research Group which collaborates with State and Territory recreation and sport agencies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
I am confident that the committee is undertaking the necessary research and that we can use these statistics to help grow participation in South Australia.
However, the Opposition’s main issue is that we’re hearing from Sport SA and other stakeholders that there is a facilities crisis in South Australia – specifically at the grass roots level.
One can rightly ask how we can grow participation when facilities are out of date or just not available.
I speak to people involved in sport regularly through my role and their concerns are growing.
Tonight I will attend the Sport SA AGM (as I’m sure will the Minister for Recreation & Sport) and I’ve no doubt we’ll both get some more feedback on facilities from sport representatives from across the State.
If we are to encourage more people to participate in sport then the issue of sporting facilities must be addressed.
The Government’s response thus far has been that they have just committed $100 million to AAMI stadium.
The Rann Government is missing the point.
If I can quote Jan Sutherland of Sport SA;
“The government talks about people being active and is quite happy to take the financial benefits from sporting events but it is not prepared to spend any money on facilities. The government is spending $100 million on upgrading AAMI Stadium but that is an upgrade for spectators. We need money spent on facilities for participation in sport.”
Ms Sutherland is speaking on behalf of all of Sport SA’s members; Hockey, Athletics, Swimming for example – sporting bodies who are crying out for new and improved facilities and the grass roots level and indeed at the elite level.
As I have outlined in the past, the Santos Stadium running track is not up to scratch, mystery still surrounds the building of the new State Aquatic Centre at Marion and Hockey needs improved facilities.
There are not enough pitches to cater for the rising numbers of young kids who want to play soccer, a sport which is growing bigger by the day and our baseball facilities are another example of below par facilities.
Sadly – this government has given very little indication on what it will do to address what is a very serious issue for sport in South Australia. Our facilities just aren’t up to scratch and we’re falling behind the other States.
The Opposition has called for an audit of our sporting facilities, a call that has been backed by SA sport and in the media.
If I can read from the Editorial of The Advertiser on Saturday 6 September;
“The state’s sporting facilities – from Adelaide Oval through Hindmarsh Stadium to The Pines hockey complex and the velodrome at Gepps Cross – need a complete stocktake.
We need to re-evaluate their ability to match the future sporting needs of our younger generation and assess their present suitability for patrons.
There are many questions to be answered about our sports facilities.
Are we getting the proper value for money from them?
Talk of a Commonwealth Games bid has, quite rightly, renewed debate about the standard of our sporting arenas and just how much they need to be improved, or, in some cases, replaced.
A major study of these facilities is not only warranted, it is almost essential.
A public audit of the facilities is in the public interest and the dollars spent on such an investigation would be money well spent.
A major audit and long-term plan for Adelaide’s sports facilities should not be dismissed by Labor merely because some aspects have been promoted by the Opposition. Sports infrastructure is a matter of intense public interest on many fronts. On the financial front, it attracts significant amounts of public funding.
On a wider level, the standards of Adelaide’s sports arenas is of great interest to fans from around the state who regularly attend matches.
South Australia has had great success over the years as a sporting state. Now it is time Adelaide’s sports facilities were appropriate for the nation’s fifth-largest city.”
I say to the Rann Government – listen to the media, listen to sport and listen to the opposition. We are in the midst of a sports facilities crisis. It’s time to act.
With those comments I wish to conclude my contribution, and I look forward to continuing to work with all honourable members in this session.