GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEES
General Purpose Standing Committee No. 4
Monday, 16 June 1997
SPORT AND RECREATION
The Committee met at 4.00 p.m.
The Hon. I. M. Macdonald (Chair)
The Hon. I. Cohen
The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn
The Hon. E. M. Obeid
The Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith
The Hon. Gabrielle Harrison, Minister for Sport and Recreation
Mr D. Howse, Chief of Staff
Mr D. Clout, Media Adviser
Mr J. Cain, Senior Policy Adviser
Department of Sport and Recreation
Mr W. Gillooly, Director-General
Ms L. Evans, Deputy Director-General
Mr K. Critchley, Director, Administration
Mr A. Russell, Director, Operations
Mr P. Keady, Director, Sport
Mr J. Cuthbert, Financial Controller
Mr W. Battams, Acting Director, New South Wales Institute of Sport
CHAIR: I declare open this Estimates Committee on Sport and Recreation. At this meeting the Committee will examine the proposed expenditure from the Consolidated Fund for the portfolio area of sport and recreation. Before questions commence some procedural matters need to be dealt with. While resolution 7 of the budget estimates reference provides that a member of a committee, and any Minister present to answer questions, may have staff present to assist them during the hearing of evidence and may refer to those staff at any time, I remind members' staff and any other persons that they should take care not to interrupt proceedings and to observe the usual courtesies which apply to a meeting of the House or of a committee. Where possible, messages for members should be given through the attendant on duty or to the Committee clerk. In relation to members of the media, the Committee resolved on 2 June that the press and the public be admitted to the proceedings of the Committee. I wish to explain to you what is required by the standing order of the Legislative Council in this regard so that you will be aware of the position. Legislative Council Standing Order 252 provides:
Evidence taken by any Select Committee of the House, and documents presented to such Committee which have not been reported to the House, may not, except with the permission of the Committee, be disclosed or published by any Member of such Committee or by any other person.
In reporting the proceedings of this Committee, as with reporting the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament, you must take responsibility for what you publish and the interpretation you place on anything that is said before the Committee. In order to accurately complete the questions and answers paper the Committee clerk requires that members complete and sign the appropriate form when a question is taken or given on notice. I have a letter from the Opposition Whip announcing that the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn replaces the Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith. I welcome the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn. I declare the proposed expenditure item open for examination.
The Hon. I. COHEN: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 624, subprogram 65.1.1. Sport and Recreation Development. Could you explain the relevance of and difference between sport and recreation? Are there separate budget allocations for non-competitive sport and recreation?
Ms HARRISON: No, there are not. They are not separated in the budget.
The Hon. I. COHEN: Could you describe allocations to forms of recreation other than specific sporting events?
Ms HARRISON: Recreation would include the department's sport and recreation centres, which are available largely to children, although the department does run family programs as well. That would, I guess, be called recreation. There is probably a blurred line between what constitutes sport and what constitutes recreation, but those centres would be the main forms of recreation that the department runs.
The Hon. I. COHEN: I again refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 624, subprogram 65.1.1. Sport and Recreation Development. Does the budget allocate funds to address community needs for research facilities and buildings to be used for community purposes other than, but also including, sport?
Ms HARRISON: I would not think so. I will ask the director-general to comment. I cannot think of any research outside of sport. I suppose scientific research with the Institute of Sport would come into that category.
Mr GILLOOLY: There are no specific allocations for ordinary community buildings or for research facilities or whatever. Certainly it is a policy of the department and we are moving towards supporting multipurpose facilities. Those facilities, besides catering for sport and recreation, can also cater for community needs as well, which means that some communities would actually use those facilities for public meetings and so on.
The Hon. I. COHEN: I again refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 624, subprogram 65.1.1. Sport and Recreation Development. Could you advise what funds have been made available for youth-specific projects in areas in which communities are calling for facilities to be made available to be used, particularly in rural communities?
Ms HARRISON: That is a very difficult question, because nearly all of the department's programs would be applicable to youth. So there would be no way of quantifying exactly how much of the department's budget would be spent on youth. The department runs a number of programs that are youth-specific. One of those would be the Aussie Sports program. The capital assistance program, whereby the department builds facilities, would be used equally by young people and older people. The sport and recreation centres would be basically for children. The Police Citizens Youth Club program, which is run specifically for disadvantaged youth, has received a $100,000 enhancement.
I have been handed a document that gives an overview of the situation. The document states that the department has a specific emphasis on serving youth in its major program areas. The majority of clients in the following services are youth: the country athletes assistance program, the disabled ski program, the elite sports squads, local sports development, the regional talented athletes program, school sports education, the sports scholarship scheme, and the talented athletes program. Other services that youth can access are as follows: the Aussie Sports coach education, the Austswim training program for community use at weekends, fitness leader accreditation introductory opportunities, outdoor education programs, Sportsfun, Sportslink and the vacation sports program that I just mentioned. All of those programs would be available to youth and some are specifically targeted for youth.
I might add that the Sport for All Kids program was directed at children and teenagers of both average and limited sporting ability. It is felt that not every child can be an elite athlete; however, every child should have the opportunity to participate in sport and be proud of his or her achievements. That scheme plays an important role in improving the health of children, and the department is investigating options for continued and improved services to youth. For that program the department provided $100,000 in 1995-96 and $100,000 in 1996-97.
The Hon. I. COHEN: The Premier has made a point about additional funds being made available to address concerns relating to youth offenders, for example, and other disadvantaged young people. Could you give some details of your Government's endeavours in that area?
Ms HARRISON: Some of that would actually be in other portfolios, about which I could not comment. The new enhancement of $100,000 for the PCYC programs targeting disadvantaged youth would be a perfect example. The department has been running late-night basketball programs through PCYC and has undertaken a number of successful pilot programs. It is now looking at expanding those programs to other centres around the State.
The Hon. I. COHEN: When you refer to disadvantaged youth, are you referring to economically or regionally disadvantaged youth? I am interested in the department setting up facilities in community areas that can be of service to youth, such as skateboard ramps. Youth in the Byron Bay area in northern New South Wales believe they are receiving few facilities and are locked out of many of the entertainment venues. Would the Minister care to comment on that?
Ms HARRISON: Skateboard facilities and the like are funded through the capital assistance program. Applications for funding are assessed against other applications around the State. Since the Government came to office it has funded a number of skateboard facilities through that program and will continue to do so.
The Hon. I. COHEN: Are these outside the metropolitan area?
Ms HARRISON: Yes. The last one I went to was on the north coast, but each application is considered against other applications for a particular area. The PCYC program is a Government initiative. Also, a subcommittee of the Council on Crime Prevention was formed, aimed at involving disadvantaged youth in sport and recreational activities. Some of our biggest sporting stars, acting as role models, and peak organisations are working with the department and the PCYC to create sport and recreational programs for disadvantaged youth. Two peak organisations, the Sydney Kings and the Sydney Swans, have already assisted in this program.
The initiative is being trialled in five areas: Redfern-South Sydney, Fairfield-Cabramatta, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga and Nowra. All five areas have been identified by the Police Service as in need of this positive intervention. As I indicated earlier, $100,000 has been allocated for the pilot program. The support from the New South Wales sporting community for the program will allow clinics to offer a broad range of activities, including netball, rugby league, gymnastics, surf lifesaving, wilderness camps and, we are hoping, even discotheques.
The Hon. I. COHEN: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, subprogram 65.1.1. Will the Minister detail the Government's achievements in providing sports development assistance to the Aboriginal communities both in the city and in rural areas?
Ms HARRISON: The Government is committed to ensuring that the full range of sport and recreational services are accessible to the Aboriginal community. The Government has provided $300,000 per annum for a range of initiatives to improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These initiatives include implementing the PCYC street beat program on a statewide basis. That program was designed to reduce crime largely through encouraging Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander youth to participate in a sporting activity organised by an Aboriginal sports administration trainee and a committee of local community youth. This will provide opportunities and educational training, combined with work experience, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through a pathways program, leading to permanent employment in the sport and recreation industry. The Government is endeavouring to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through skill-up coaching and leadership programs, to develop and implement their own programs and strategies to identify potential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes and deliver programs to meet community needs.
All departmental staff receive cross-cultural and reconciliation training to raise their awareness of issues impacting on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. This strategy will proceed in June 1997, and Aboriginal consultants have been engaged to deliver it. The Government is providing promotional assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sporting clubs throughout New South Wales. Employment positions are advertised in the Aboriginal media. The Government supports the indigenous sports program and is working cooperatively with the Australian Sports Commission to deliver programs to the ATSIC community.
Mr GILLOOLY: We have a number of innovative, one-off programs which form part of the major program to which the Minister has just referred. One recent example is the funding of an initiative called the Search for the Australian Tiger. At first I thought it had something to do with the Tasmanian tiger, but it is based on Tiger Woods. In New South Wales there are a number of junior golfers who are on handicaps of two and three. Some play with borrowed clubs, and I have heard of one young golfer with a handicap of three or four who plays in bare feet. We have put $10,000 into a program that is being run in conjunction with the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation. There is a whole range of initiatives, but that is just an example of one.
The Hon. I. COHEN: Are you referring to young Aboriginal people in that particular instance?
Mr GILLOOLY: Yes, both male and female young Aboriginal people. One of the conditions of the funding was that we were aiming initially for at least 25 per cent female representation on that program. There were problems in achieving that but we are working towards having that as a starting point. For gender equity, we seek to have 50-50 male and female representation.
Ms HARRISON: We also funded a program targeted at disadvantaged Aboriginal youth to teach them to sail, the ultimate goal being that some of those children will eventually be able to sail in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The Hon. I. COHEN: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, subprogram 65.1.1. Does the portfolio offer support and encouragement for non-competitive sports, such as yoga and bushwalking?
Ms HARRISON: I would have to take on notice the question as to funding for yoga. The department funds walking for pleasure programs. There used to be a $5 fee and a group would arrange times for meeting and walking. The $5 fee has been scrapped because the department wanted to increase the number of participants in the program it administered. The group decides where its members walk and obviously would choose picturesque and scenic walks, which would include bushwalking.
The Hon. I. COHEN: Does the department accept that there is a role for non-competitive sport and activities in the general fitness area?
Ms HARRISON: Yes. The department certainly supports non-competitive sport because it provides help to all who want to lead a healthy lifestyle. The department supports the peak body, the Outdoor Recreation Council of New South Wales. I would need to obtain further information as to how much and what type of support is given. Yes, the department supports recreation and non-competitive sport.
The Hon. I. COHEN: I refer again to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, subprogram 65.1.1. I have been interested in recent times to learn that a number of private groups have been working with the disadvantaged in an activity related to disability surfing. Has the department undertaken any project in that area?
Ms HARRISON: I am not aware of any project for disability surfing that has been undertaken and I do not believe I have had approaches in that regard. I will take that question on notice.
Mr GILLOOLY: Obviously the department would welcome an approach from an organisation which was undertaking that activity. We very much have an expanding role with disability sports. Funding has been provided to the sailability program for the provision of sailing boats for disabled people because sailing will be an event at the Paralympics and we hope there is another gold medal to be won
in that event. The Minister is forever hounding me and is in my ear to do more for disabled persons.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: What about wheelchair sports?
CHAIR: The Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith is next on the list to ask questions of the Minister. The honourable member should wait his turn.
Ms HARRISON: I would be willing to consider an application for such a project.
The Hon. I. COHEN: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, subprogram 65.1.1. Further with regard to disability sports, what steps is the department taking to ensure that people with a disability have the opportunity to access sports development assistance?
Ms HARRISON: The department was instrumental in creating the New South Wales Sports Council for the Disabled in 1984. This council acts as an umbrella organisation for the development of sport for people with disabilities in New South Wales. It currently provides assistance to disabled competitors participating in 40 different sports. The council caters particularly well for the needs of people with intellectual disabilities participating in athletics and swimming. Funding in excess of $180,000 was provided to support the New South Wales Sports Council for the Disabled in 1996-97. Apart from funding assistance, the department provides office accommodation for the council at the State Sports Centre which is accessible to people with disabilities.
The Sports Council for the Disabled works closely in a promotional and educational role with non-disabled sporting associations, State and local government, welfare organisations and educational institutions. The council provides a wide range of services to all disabled members of sports associations, including: assistance with strategic planning and administration; advice on funding, sponsorship and fund raising; and assistance in making applications to the department for a range of grants to assist disabled competitors. The sports council designs and implements regular sports programs, annual championships and special events.
The council currently consists of two representatives from 12 recognised sporting associations for people with a disability. The projects in which the council is involved include: the regional "come 'n' try" sporting programs in both rural and metropolitan centres throughout New South Wales; coordination of State and national championships for various disability groups and regular seasonal multidisability sporting competitions; coordination of the learn to ski week for people with a disability in conjunction with the department; intensive training sports clinics and camps for youths with a disability; encouragement and support to coaches of able-bodied sporting organisations to assist people with a disability; and regular sporting programs for individual member organisations. It is also involved in the production of a resource kit for teachers on integrating disabled students into regular physical education classes, an integration project of introducing people with a disability into regular able-bodied sporting organisations, coaching clinics for disabled athletes representing New South Wales, lecturing at schools and tertiary institutions on sport for people with a disability, and community consultancy on facility development.
Also, the departmental capital works projects at the Department of Sport and Recreation centres are designed for access by people with a disability. The department, in consultation with relevant community groups, attempts to examine all possibilities to upgrade outdoor recreation and adventure opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. The New South Wales Academy of Sport has purpose-built accessible accommodation for 104 people with a disability. This facility is regularly used by sporting groups catering for people with a disability as a training and competition venue. Narrabeen Sports and Recreation Centre is being developed into an international and national centre of excellence for disabled sport. Paralympians have been relocated to Sydney to take advantage of this initiative at the Academy of Sport. A recipient of that concept is Louise Sauvage, who has relocated to Sydney. Also, in a joint venture between the department and the Australian Disabled Ski Federation, a lodge accommodating up to 20 people has been constructed at the winter Academy of Sport at Lake Jindabyne. Comfortable accommodation helps skiers with a disability to train for international competition, provides low-cost units for holidaying families, and gives beginners the opportunity to try skiing and to assess their suitability. I will refer to my director-general to add any comments.
Mr GILLOOLY: At a number of our sport and recreation centres now we cater for -
The Hon. I. COHEN: Budget Paper No. 2, page 4-157, line item Expenditure Trends and Recent Developments refers to women in sport and the continued development of women for leadership positions. Would you outline the steps that have
been taken to increase women's participation in sport and how the Women in Sport Unit is assisting in the process?
Ms HARRISON: Clearly, women have lower rates of participation in sport and recreation than men because of the social and economic barriers related to the traditional role of women. The Women in Sport Unit was established within the Department of Sport and Recreation at the end of April 1996 to ensure that the Government's priorities are pursued. The unit has four staff and is working with the ministerial women in sport and recreation task force on a broad range of issues. In February 1996 I established the ministerial task force to provide advice on issues relating to women's involvement in sport and physical activity in New South Wales, and that task force is to report to me soon.
The Women in Sport Unit is currently developing a State plan for women in sport and recreation. The State plan will set out a framework which will facilitate the development of an agenda that will include the sport and recreation environment. The development of the State plan has included an extensive consultation with key stakeholders in sport and recreation and members of the task force and the unit. Some of the issues and initiatives which the unit is currently addressing include increasing the participation of women with family responsibilities. An amount of $100,000 has been provided for the establishment of four best-practice child-care pilot programs. Each pilot program will have a different area of focus on cultural appropriateness.
One pilot program will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; another program will target women from non-English speaking backgrounds. Another program will be established in a rural area. A fourth pilot program will focus on the establishment of a mobile child-care service. Another issue is an increase in the number of women involved in sports administration. The Department of Sport and Recreation will offer $100,000 worth of scholarships in 1996-97 to provide female sports administrators within New South Wales with the opportunity to enhance their skills and gain development opportunities within the sport and recreation industry. The scholarship program will also provide funds for gender equity training within boards and committees. A limited number of travel scholarships will be available to enable women with potential to become senior sports administrators to travel and study sports management issues.
A further issue is the development of a physical activity program for girls in detention. Funding from the program known as Sport for All Kids will assist the central, northern and metropolitan regional office of the department in conjunction with Yasmar detention centre and the Department of Juvenile Justice to enable girls in detention to participate in a wide range of physical activity. To increase the participation of women in coaching the department will subsidise 300 coaches to complete their level one and level two coaching accreditation. Up to 50 per cent of places in this program will be allocated to women.
With regard to the increased participation of teenage girls in sport, a leadership and role model program for young women will be developed with $75,000 funding assistance from the Sport for All Kids program. The leadership and role model program will involve role models visiting schools and conducting educational talks on the benefits of physical activity and the positive opportunity sport and recreation can provide at all levels. The program will include introductory opportunities for teenage girls to participate in physical activity. To reduce sexual harassment associated with sport, a generic policy and resource material related to sexual harassment will be developed which sports will be able to adapt to their own needs. We will require sports to adopt our policy or adapt one of their own. In regard to recognition of prior learning, a pilot program will be conducted in conjunction -
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: On behalf of the Opposition I express commiserations to you on your recent accident. We hope you will be back to form before too long. Are you going to continue playing netball?
Ms HARRISON: I cannot wait to get back.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, line item Operating Statement, and the reference to assisting children to attend sport and recreation centres. Will the Minister explain why last year's budget allocation of $5,000 was not spent and why the program appears to have been discontinued altogether?
Ms HARRISON: The expenditure and the 1997-98 budget have been transferred to operating expenses.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: Has the program been discontinued?
Ms HARRISON: I will ask my director of operations to answer that question.
Mr RUSSELL: The reason that that program is still going is that sport and recreation managers at the centres have the ability to grant assistance to parents in hardship if the parents can demonstrate to the centre manager that they can afford only part of the fee for the child to attend the centre. The centre managers have the discretion to grant assistance.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: Why has no allocation been made for this program for the coming financial year?
Mr RUSSELL: This year there is no specific allocation for that program. It is part of the managers' responsibility to take into account the parents who apply to the centres for assistance. In effect it could go over $5,000, or it could be under $5,000. We incorporated it into the whole of the budget. The centre managers have the discretion to grant assistance.
The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 623, line item Proceeds from sale of property. Will the Minister outline all the asset sales undertaken by the department in the previous financial year and the proceeds received from those sales? Will the Minister outline which assets will be sold in the forthcoming year and the expected proceeds which the Government will receive as a result?
Ms HARRISON: The asset sale proceeds transferred to the State are proceeds from the sale of land at Minnamurra Falls, which is $110,000 per annum over five years commencing from 1994-95, 50 per cent of which is payable to Treasury.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 622, line item Operating expenses. Will the Minister outline which programs in the department are specifically Olympic related and what will be spent on these programs in the years leading up to the Olympic Games? Does the department support this expenditure to Treasury, the Minister for the Olympics, or other government agencies or departments?
Ms HARRISON: I will refer that question to the director-general.
Mr GILLOOLY: There are no Olympic programs as such. My department does not contribute directly to the Olympic Games. The department has a program in which we work with rural regions in an endeavour to get Olympic teams to regional New South Wales between now and the Olympics for acclimatisation training and whatever else is needed. That is the only vaguely Olympic-related spending we have. Certainly if there were no Olympics in Australia we would still work towards that goal. We believe that country people should see international teams compete in their areas. We have a number of irons in the fire in that regard at the moment.
The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, Operating Statement, line item Eastern Creek Raceway. Will the Minister explain why there was an unbudgeted expenditure of $1.2 million on this project?
Ms HARRISON: That was the final payment in relation to Eastern Creek Raceway operating costs and leasing out.
The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: On the same page, I refer to line item Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix - rights fee. Given the inability of the Government and the Minister to keep the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in New South Wales, can the Minister explain how the Government intends to spend the $3.7 million it will now save on the rights fee? Will the Minister outline every program on which this money will be spent?
Ms HARRISON: First, I did not lose the grand prix; it was lost before the Australian Labor Party took control of government. At that time in Melbourne's Parliament, Jeff Kennett said words to the effect, "We won, but I decided not to damage John Fahey in any way", if I remember correctly. No, I did not lose the grand prix. The rights fee was given as a one-off grant each year by Treasury. As we do not have to pay that out, $3.7 million has been saved by Treasury to spend on hospitals and police.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: I refer to line item Operating Statement at page 625 of Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2. Recently the Premier announced that financial assistance would be provided by the State Government as an incentive for the further establishment of clubs and assistance to existing clubs. What contribution is the Department of Sport and Recreation making towards this proposal? Is there an allocation for such a purpose in the budget papers? What programs have been cut to provide for the funding?
Ms HARRISON: I am unaware of a specific promise of the Premier to clubs in general. We received an extra allocation under the capital assistance program, so sporting organisations all over the State will get an extra $1 million and the regional sporting facilities program will get an extra $4.5 million this year.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: Does the Minister want to take that question on notice?
CHAIR: Does the Minister wish to take the question on notice?
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: I would like an answer.
CHAIR: It is a matter for the Minister. She does not have to take the question on notice.
Ms HARRISON: I am not aware of a promise by the Premier to increase assistance to all clubs across New South Wales.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: I did not say that, did I? I said for the further establishment of clubs and assistance to existing clubs.
Ms HARRISON: To general clubs?
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: The Premier made the statement about six months ago.
Ms HARRISON: I am not aware of that statement.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: Do you want to take that question on notice?
Ms HARRISON: I am not aware of the claim.
The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, line item Sports development assistance. Will the Minister explain why the sports and development assistance program was underspent by $1.4 million and why the program's allocation has been cut by $1.6 million in the next financial year?
Ms HARRISON: It should be noted that much of the variation results from timing differences between commitments to projects and grant recipients actually making a claim on the funds. For the purposes of this analysis it is better to amalgamate under one heading grants to sporting associations and for sports development. As often as not a clear distinction is not made between the two line items. The combined decrease of $980,000 - that is $743,000 and $237,000 - can best be explained by the funding for the creche and senior adult pilot programs in 1996-97. The need for further funding will be assessed after the programs have been evaluated. At this stage they are pilot programs. That funding amounts to $200,000. There is also the impact of the 2 per cent savings cut in the department's allocation assigned to the grants program. In addition, possible program reductions are currently under consideration, and there will be a general reduction in grant payments reflecting timing differences between payments of commitments of $230,000. The reduction of grants contingencies approximates $180,000. That all adds up to the $980,000.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: Also on page 625, in the Operating Statement there is reference to assistance for special community groups. Will the Minister explain why last year's budget allocation of $40,000 was not spent and why this program appears to have been discontinued altogether? This question is similar to that which I asked earlier about children attending sporting and recreation centres.
Ms HARRISON: I will refer that question to John Cuthbert.
Mr CUTHBERT: This is similar to the child assistance grants of $5,000. It is still in operation. It is really a change of accounting treatment for budget purposes where we are taking expenditure out of grants and putting it into the operations of the organisation.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: Recurrent expenses?
Mr CUTHBERT: Yes. The reason behind that is the nature of the expense. It is not an actual cash outlay, it is a discount or a subsidisation of fees for programs that are run at not full cost recovery. That is the reason it has been taken out of grants and put into the operations of the organisation.
The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: I refer also to line item Operating Statement on page 625 of Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2. Will the Minister provide a breakdown of funding under the capital assistance grants for Olympic sports and non-Olympic sports? Will she justify any discrepancy in funding between these sports? In real terms, has the funding to non-Olympic sports increased? If not, why not?
Ms HARRISON: I believe it would be impossible to provide a breakdown of Olympic and non-Olympic sports under the capital assistance program, because a number of grants would go to multiuse facilities. To break down what part of those would be Olympic and what part would be non-Olympic would be impossible.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: My question is directed to violence in sport. I note in the budget papers that no allocation is made for
seminars, et cetera, dealing with this subject. Will the Minister enlighten us about what she proposes to do in that regard during this coming financial year?
Ms HARRISON: A number of matters should be made clear about violence in sport. The first is that we do not interfere with the internal workings of any sporting organisation. That does not mean that we are not involved in some of the ongoing problems that some sports have with violence, but it has been made quite clear to me that the sportspeople themselves do not wish to have violence because they wish to promote participation in their sport, and violence in sport serves no purpose in that regard. We run coaching clinics which are quite clear on a number of issues, and violence in sport is one of the issues we address.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH: Does the Minister propose to hold any seminars that would need to be funded?
Ms HARRISON: Not to my knowledge.
The Hon. E. M. OBEID: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, subprogram 65.1.1 Sport and Recreation Development, line item Grants and subsidies, which allocates $3 million for the operating costs of the New South Wales Institute of Sport in 1997-98. Does the Government's continuing commitment to the New South Wales Institute of Sport mean that funds will be restricted to assisting high-performance athletes from Olympic sports?
Ms HARRISON: No. The Department of Sport and Recreation will continue to play a key role in the identification and development of talented athletes throughout New South Wales across a wide range of Olympic and non-Olympic sports. The establishment of the institute has allowed my department and the Sydney Academy of Sport to focus on supporting the development of talented junior and subelite athletes from New South Wales to achieve success in State, national and international competition. The academy will also assist in the development of elite athletes from sports that will not be included in the institute's programs. My department has developed a number of specialist facilities, programs and staffing resources at the Sydney Academy of Sport to achieve this objective. The academy is acknowledged as a world-class residential sports training complex, second in Australia at this time only to the Australian Institute of Sport. The academy also conducts an extensive range of broad-based participation and sports development programs. The academy's school programs have the highest occupancy of any sport and recreation centre, and provide specialist sports programs in addition to conventional outdoor education.
The residential and training facilities of the academy are used year round by a wide range of sporting and community groups. I am pleased to report that work will be completed this year on the construction of new diving facilities for children and others participating in sporting and outdoor education programs. It is my intention to rationalise the department's various support programs which relate to athlete development to ensure that a more effective and efficient system is in place which will enable a proper feeder system for athlete servicing through regional academies of sport, the New South Wales Academy of Sport and the New South Wales Institute of Sport. Steps are currently being taken by the department to establish a talented development division within the department which will have statewide responsibility for these programs and the feeder systems linked with the New South Wales Institute of Sport.
My department is continuing to work closely with State sporting organisations in administering its athlete support programs. In addition to supporting the role of the Sydney Academy of Sport, the Government is committed to providing greater support for the network of regional academies of sport throughout the State. The annual budget for regional academies was increased from $240,000 to over $600,000 last year. The increase enabled my department to proceed with the establishment of new academies to service the western Sydney and south-western Sydney areas and increase the annual contribution of the six long-standing academies at Newcastle, Wollongong, Lismore, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga and Armidale. It is important that this State's leading young athletes have exposure to international competition. The Government is committed to providing such exposure to talented athletes through sporting exchange programs. Ongoing exchange programs are conducted with Japan for athletics, Austria for snow skiing, Germany for swimming, and Korea for soccer.
My department is also working closely with the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, the Department of State and Regional Development and the Department of Tourism with respect to pre-Olympic training and competition opportunities for athletes in Olympic and non-Olympic sports. For the past two years the Government has supported the establishment of new sports high schools in the Hunter and the Illawarra. I am pleased to report that my department has also been working closely with the Department of School Education at both State and regional levels to assist in their establishment and to bring them into the web of the sports development system in this State.
The department recently completed a review of the regional academies of sport and recommended that it explore opportunities to extend the range of services available to talented athletes through the New South Wales Institute of Sport, the Sydney Academy of Sport and regional academies, through greater use of its sporting and recreational centres and other areas to ensure that talented athletes, irrespective of where they live in New South Wales, have more equitable access to support services and training facilities. My department is also offering a range of coaching scholarships and coach development programs in targeted sports to assist in the development of better skilled coaches this year. These sports include track and field, softball, gymnastics, rugby league, netball, soccer and tennis.
CHAIR: I note that the Minister’s term in office coincided with the rise of the Sydney Swans. Will the Minister outline what role the Department of Sport and Recreation, particularly at the Sydney Academy of Sport in Narrabeen, has played in the rise of the fortunes of the Sydney Swans?
Ms HARRISON: The Government has helped the Sydney Swans by providing sports science resources at the Academy of Sport and it has assisted the Aussie rules code under the regional facilities program. The Government has given the Sydney Swans extensive help at both those levels.
The Hon. E. M. OBEID: I refer to page 4-159 of Budget Paper No. 2, Capital Assistance Program. The third paragraph on that page refers to the fact that $1 million will be provided for the capital assistance program - a program that will assist in the development of sporting and recreational facilities that have a broad community orientation. How will those funds be distributed? Will the Minister give details of the assistance programs relating to the development of those facilities?
Ms HARRISON: The availability of adequate sporting facilities is essential if the community is to be able to participate in sporting and recreational activities. The Government is committed to assisting in the development of these facilities throughout the State, which will have a direct impact on increasing the community's level of participation in sport. The capital assistance program is one of the department's two major programs aimed at improving facilities in the community. My department's capital assistance program will be enhanced in 1997-98 by 33 per cent, to a total of $4 million. Application forms and information will shortly be distributed widely throughout New South Wales. Following an assessment of applications I expect to announce the successful applicants towards the end of the year. Every endeavour will be made to ensure that the distribution of funds is equitable geographically and demographically throughout the State and between the various sporting and recreational activities. The Government believes that the importance of recreation to the community is a high priority. With the assistance of other departments it will be possible to coordinate and plan beneficial programs for people in all areas of New South Wales.
Local councils are encouraged to formulate proposals to the Department of Sport and Recreation for both the medium-term and long-term development of sporting and recreational needs so that more coordinated and effective programs can be implemented. With the selection of Sydney to host the 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games there will be an unprecedented focus on New South Wales sport and, in particular, an opportunity for New South Wales to host pre-Olympic training programs. There will, of course, be an expectation that the Government will assist in the provision of suitable training venues which will not only meet pre-Olympic training requirements but also provide a legacy to regional sport after the Olympics. Accordingly, it is imperative that the long-term benefits of all proposed facility developments be properly assessed before funding decisions are made. To summarise, the Government will ensure that proper support is provided for the development of local and regional sporting and recreational facilities with priority being given to the areas of greatest demonstrated need.
CHAIR: The Minister would be aware that, as a country person, I am concerned about regional issues. I understand that there will be nine regional academies of sport in New South Wales with the establishment of the new Far West Regional Academy in 1997-98. What progress has been made to date with the establishment of those academies? How will they benefit people living in isolated rural areas of the State?
Ms HARRISON: Regional academies assist sports performance development at the regional level by, first, developing partnerships with local, regional sports associations for the purpose of providing specific training and educational programs for talented young athletes; second, implementing talent identification, talent development and coach development programs in conjunction with State sporting associations and the Sydney Academy of Sport; third, improving access to sports science resources for athletes and coaches involved in their talent development programs through their association with regionally based tertiary institutions and the Sydney Academy of Sport; and, fourth,
establishing close links with the talent development programs of State sporting associations and the New South Wales Institute of Sport.
The policy of the Department of Sport and Recreation is to support a limited number of regional academies of sport in strategically placed locations throughout New South Wales. This policy is in keeping with the department's corporate goal of sports performance development. Regional academies currently exist at Newcastle, Wollongong, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Lismore and Armidale. New regional academies are now being established in the western and south-western Sydney metropolitan areas and the far west area of the State. The new regional academy of sport identified in the budget papers for 1997-98 is the Far West Regional Academy of Sport. It is part of the Government's overall statewide sports development strategy to support sport in the identification, development and support of talented athletes, which involves the following stakeholders: the New South Wales Institute of Sport; regional academies of sport; the Sydney Academy of Sport; State, regional and district sports; and the Department of Sport and Recreation and its regional offices and centres.
The functions of the Far West Regional Academy of Sport will be broader than those of the other regional academies of sport. It will be required to provide opportunities for the development of talented young athletes from the remote areas of far western New South Wales, to assist with the development of more equitable opportunities for Aboriginal people to participate in sport, and to act as a sub-regional office of my department. The main service area of the Far West Regional Academy of Sport will be the local government areas of Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Cobar, Walgett, Warren and the unincorporated area. It will also provide special programs for members of Aboriginal communities, including young Aboriginal people from neighbouring local government areas such as Carrathool, Coonamble, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Lachlan, Moree Plains and Narromine.
I am delighted to report that my department has made excellent progress in establishing the Far West Regional Academy of Sport. The department received a very good response from local government bodies and other organisations to its invitation to submit expressions of interest to provide support for and assist with the establishment of the Far West Regional Academy of Sport. Submissions were received from Dubbo City Council and Dubbo Sports World and Cabins, a private company which operates the city's modern indoor sports complex and associated accommodation and other facilities; Cobar High School and Cobar Shire Council with support from the Mardi Paaki Regional Aboriginal Council, the local Aboriginal land council, surrounding schools and other community groups; and Warren Shire Council.
I have accepted my department's recommendation that the Far West Regional Academy of Sport be established at Cobar with its administrative headquarters at Cobar High School. While the academy's administrative headquarters will be located at Cobar, it will be required to conduct programs throughout its service area to develop community sporting infrastructure for coaching, sports management, talent development and training of officials. Not only will the academy's staff be able to call on the State sporting organisations and my department for assistance to deliver its programs, it will be able to take advantage of the interest in sport in schools and the skills of their teachers in coaching, program management and sports administration as well.
Cobar also provides an ideal base from which to conduct sports programs and/or administer specific programs which are being conducted elsewhere throughout the region. The town and the high school have a range of excellent facilities to offer the academy. The high school has a new indoor centre which can be used for training programs, and immediate access to a hostel to accommodate program participants from elsewhere throughout the region. While the isolation of the various centres throughout the region must be acknowledged, Cobar is fairly centrally located in respect to Broken Hill and the other major centres in the academy's service area. By working closely with the schools in the area and the coaches and sports administrators in the larger centres, the academy will be able to provide opportunities for talented young sportspeople to develop their skills without having to go to major centres such as Sydney.
The Hon. E. M. OBEID: I refer to Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 2, page 625, subprogram 65.1.1, line item Grants and subsidies - NSW Institute of Sport. An amount of $3 million has again been allocated in 1997-98 for the New South Wales Institute of Sport. Will the Minister advise the members of the Committee of the current status and achievements of the Institute of Sport?
Ms HARRISON: The New South Wales Institute of Sport is now fully operational and is the pinnacle of this Government's undertaking to provide a more structured and systematic approach to sports and elite athlete development in New South Wales. The New South Wales Institute of Sport has
now effectively completed its first full year of operations. It has established its administrative, sport science and athlete support service headquarters in the undercroft of the Sydney International Athletic Centre in Olympic Park, Homebush Bay. Intensive elite athlete squad training programs have now been put in place in 25 sports following a comprehensive negotiation and joint planning process with the respective State and national sporting organisations and the Australian Institute of Sport. These squad programs range across Olympic and non-Olympic sports and also include support of elite disabled athletes.
The institute's squad programs operate to an athlete-centred, coach-driven philosophy. The institute has accordingly worked hard and been successful in recruiting internationally credentialed coaches to head its major squad programs. The standard of these coaches is evidenced by the fact that 12 New South Wales Institute of Sport coaches currently hold national team appointments. The establishment of the institute has enabled significant enhancement and expansion of the existing elite squad programs in a number of major Olympic sports. These enhancements should give our New South Wales athletes the best possible chance of achieving representation and medal success at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Under the institute, I am told, we can also confidently expect several of these programs, such as rowing and canoeing, to consolidate themselves as ongoing, world-recognised, international centres of excellence and programs which consistently have New South Wales athletes dominating national team representation. Major program refinement has also occurred under the institute in other sports such as cycling, track and field and swimming, in a concerted attempt to establish flagship programs which achieve consistent world-class results. In each case the institute has striven to create programs which take full advantage of the opportunities and services provided by the institute and, indeed, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Supported and well managed, they will create lasting legacies for New South Wales sport well beyond the year 2000.
In addition, new Institute Elite Squad programs have been established in sports such as golf, squash, surfing and women's and men's cricket. These programs capitalise on our large participation basis and proud success histories in these sports. Their institute program involvement provides these sports in New South Wales for the first time with the full support and access to leading-edge services of an organisation dedicated to the achievement of sporting excellence. Collectively more than 550 of this State's most talented athletes are on scholarship to the New South Wales Institute of Sport and are now benefiting directly from the establishment of the institute. These athletes are now part of sophisticated and well-planned elite athlete development and support programs.
They receive international standard coaching, and sport science servicing as well as financial assistance for domestic and international competition. They have access to world-class training and competition facilities and are monitored and managed in institute programs which are committed to concurrently supporting their educational and career development. The New South Wales Institute of Sport has also established an individual athlete scholarship program to recognise, service and provide support to world-class athletes ranked in the top 10 in the world, in sports not directly supported through an institute squad program. Thirty athletes qualified for individual scholarships in 1996-97. This program enables the institute to provide direct financial and service support to talented athletes across the full range of major sports and not simply the 25 for which it has been able to establish squad programs.
The New South Wales Institute of Sport does not have a residential component or major facility focus like the Australian Institute of Sport. From its Olympic Park headquarters it is working to maximise the opportunities and benefits for its athletes and programs in gaining access to and utilising the various Olympic facilities as they come on line. The institute has, however, established a dedicated sport science laboratory and athlete management service facility within its headquarters. Each provides leading-edge professional and technical support to athletes and coaches. The innovation and leadership that have been demonstrated by the institute in the establishment of these service facilities and programs have been recognised nationally, with many other sports institutes now seeking to emulate leading-edge achievements of the New South Wales Institute of Sport.
CHAIR: I refer to Budget Paper No. 2, page 4-159, relating to the capital grants program, which it is stated will include $4.5 million for regional sporting facilities. Will the Minister outline how those funds will be used to assist in the development of facilities?
Ms HARRISON: This program is aimed at extending the range, availability and quality of major sport and recreation facilities throughout New South Wales. The State Government is endeavouring to progressively develop and enhance a network of regional sporting facilities in this State which will
meet the needs of talented and high-performance athletes as well as the community generally. To this end, $4.5 million has been approved for the program in 1997-98. In addition to this amount, I have already approved funding for the following regional facilities in the 1996-97 financial year: Goulburn Gun Club, $20,000; Drummoyne Rotary Club, $30,000; Coffs Harbour Indoor Stadium, $20,000; Coffs Harbour International Sports Stadium, $30,000; Bankstown-Canterbury District Cricket Club, $80,000; Lismore Baseball Association, $150,000; Wagga Wagga Gun Club, $30,000; Grafton Rowing Club, $25,000; and Tweed Border Hockey Association, $100,000. That is a total of $485,000.
Guidelines and application forms for the 1997-98 program are currently being prepared and will be available for distribution at the beginning of the new financial year. The guidelines will provide sporting organisations, local government bodies and other relevant not-for-profit organisations with the information they will need to support applications under the program. The construction of new sporting and ancillary facilities will be eligible for consideration for funding, as will the upgrading of existing sporting and ancillary facilities. However, private commercial ventures, the straightforward replacement of existing facilities, operating costs or costs related to facility maintenance will not be eligible for funding.
Basically, applicant organisations will need to demonstrate that an advanced stage of planning has been reached, and that work on the facility can start within six months of the receipt of the offer of grant and be completed, preferably within 18 months. Among other things, projects must have the capacity to improve access for talented and high-performance athletes, as well as all sections of the general community. Applicant organisations must demonstrate a strong commitment to a sound management structure and an acceptable financial management plan, and the support of the relevant State sporting organisation and the local council have been given. Projects that have been identified in regional sports facility plans or in sport and recreation needs studies will be given a higher priority for funding. Projects that are able to demonstrate that the facility development will improve opportunities to attract overseas sport and recreation groups to train or to compete in New South Wales will also be given a higher priority for funding.
Funding will normally be provided on a dollar-for-dollar basis and, except in exceptional circumstances, the maximum grant available through this program will be $300,000. It should be noted that particular attention will be given to ensure that appropriate support is given to assist in the development of facilities in the Hunter region. I am anxious to ensure that all sections of the community are aware that this Government is firmly committed to providing, wherever possible, quality sporting and recreational facilities that will support and encourage a healthy lifestyle and provide a safe, secure environment for the people of New South Wales to enjoy.
The Committee proceeded to deliberate on the recommendation of the vote.
GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEES
General Purpose Standing Committee No. 1
Monday, 16 June 1997
The Committee met at 8.00 p.m.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile (Chair)
The Hon. Franca Arena
The Hon. D. J. Gay
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti
The Hon. P. T. Primrose
The Hon. M. F. Willis, President of the Legislative Council
Mr J. D. Evans, Clerk of the Parliaments
Mr G. McGill, Financial Controller
CHAIR: This is a meeting of General Purpose Standing Committee No. 1. After intensive questioning of the President of the Legislative Council, Mr McGill, the Financial Controller, and various heads of departments on the last occasion on which the Committee met, it was agreed to adjourn to allow time for additional questions. The Committee has already had an extensive hearing and this meeting is to enable members of the Committee to ask those additional questions. The time will be allotted as follows: 15 minutes to the Opposition, 15 minutes to the Government and 15 minutes to the crossbench. It is not required that all that time be used but once a question has been asked by the Opposition we will move on to Government questions. If necessary, after 45 minutes we will repeat the process. I should add that the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti will replace the Hon. Virginia Chadwick and the Hon. D. J. Gay will replace the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Mr President, would you ascertain from Mr McGill, or he might like to give the Committee an answer direct, what was the cost of travel for Mr Speaker and the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly? How many trips were undertaken during the last financial year, which would include June of this year?
The PRESIDENT: This is a matter of which I have absolutely no knowledge. I would have to refer to Mr McGill to answer that question.
Mr McGILL: Mr Chairman, with your approval I would like to read from a prepared statement in response to the question from the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti, which I believe is relevant. I have been directed not to answer any questions from this Committee directly or to answer any questions regarding the Legislative Assembly at all, for two reasons. First, the Legislative Council has not given this Committee authority to ask questions of any officer of the Parliament. Second, as an officer of the Legislative Assembly I have not been given leave of the House under Standing Order 368 to appear before this Committee. To the contrary, I have been specifically directed by the Speaker not to answer questions regarding the Legislative Assembly.
On the first point, the terms of reference for this inquiry resolved by the Legislative Council on 19 May 1997 make no provision, either directly or by implication, for the summoning or asking of questions of Parliamentary officers. Paragraph five of the terms of reference only allows the questioning of Ministers or officers of any department of government, statutory body or corporation. Similarly, the resolution establishing the Committee on 7 May 1997 only confers a general power to investigate any department of government, statutory body or corporation. This Committee therefore has no authority to ask questions of any officer of the Parliament. Consequently, any question asked of me would not be a lawful question. On the second point, the independence of each House of Parliament is a fundamental principle of the Westminster system of government. That principle requires that the examination of officers of one House by the other should only be by leave of the officer's House.
In addition, as an employee of the Speaker, I am obliged to follow the Speaker's direction. May's Parliamentary Practice tells us that, in regard to the Houses at Westminster, "Since the two Houses are wholly independent of each other, neither House can claim, much less exercise, any authority over a member or officer of the other." Further, I could be held in contempt of the Legislative Assembly if, contrary to Standing Order 368 and precedent, I answered questions from a Council Committee without the Assembly's direction. I am therefore unable to answer any questions of the Committee. However, as the Legislative Assembly, through my office, performs the accounting function for the Legislative Council and joint services, if the President seeks my advice as to Legislative Council or joint matters I will be pleased to provide him with such information.
CHAIR: To clarify one matter, I note that in earlier statements the Speaker said that he would give authority for questions to be given to you on notice, which you would presumably take back to the Speaker. Does that procedure still operate?
Mr McGILL: He has not given me any directive in that regard but I will be prepared, if you wish, to take them on notice and I will then consult the Speaker.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: Mr McGill, did you acquaint the Speaker of my concerns as expressed during the last estimates meeting that we have examined every department of the New South Wales Government and that, through his directions to you, the only department of the Government that will not be under scrutiny and will not be able to show any transparency is the Legislative Assembly? The Hon. Franca Arena asked exactly the same question of the President concerning the cost of his travel and that of the Clerks as the question that was directed through you regarding the Legislative Assembly. The President was able to answer that question in estimates yet we have no idea of what the situation
is with the Legislative Assembly. Did you pass those concerns on to the Speaker? If you did, what was his response?
Mr McGILL: I did pass the information on to the Speaker that questions were asked about Legislative Assembly activities. I informed him that, in accordance with his direction, I was not able to answer those questions. I was given the understanding that his original instructions were to stand. He has, in fact, endorsed this document I have read from this evening. He did so earlier today.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The first department mentioned, on pages 11 to 35 of Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 1, is The Legislature. That section of the budget papers, brought down by the current Government, cannot be examined in detail by the Committee. I draw to the attention of the Chair and foreshadow that I will move a motion at the end of the Committee hearings about the fact that those pages cannot be examined by the Committee.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: They will not be examined because of the action of the Speaker in directing the Financial Controller not to reply.
CHAIR: It is correct that the Committee cannot report that it has examined and approved them.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I go further. I quote from a report entitled "Inquiry Arising From Special Report of Estimates Committee No. 1" by the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Privilege and Ethics:
The Committee has also considered the claim of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly that the Financial Controller is an officer of the Legislative Assembly employed solely by the Speaker. The Committee considers that the evidence does not support this claim and that the current status of the Financial Controller is based purely on a series of administrative actions which occurred over a series of years under successive Presiding Officers and Clerks. It is apparent that the position, in common with other departmental and section heads, provides services to Members of both Houses and as such is and should be a joint position.
The Committee then came to a number of conclusions. I find that the position being adopted by Mr Speaker, given the detailed inquiry undertaken by the Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann as chairman of that Committee and the report to the Parliament in May 1997, is highly unsatisfactory. The people of New South Wales need proper scrutiny of the accounts and forward estimates accompanying the Minister's Budget Speech. This question has huge implications for how this Parliament and the Government of New South Wales is to be run. However, will Mr McGill take on notice the question that I asked, now printed in Questions and Answers, about the travel costs of the Speaker, the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for the year to date?
CHAIR: That question will be taken on notice. The question should be put in writing on the correct form.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: I will not persist with my questioning of Mr McGill, although numerous questions obviously remain unresolved. I accept that as an employee Mr McGill has a directive. Whilst we cannot accept that, I accept that he is in an untenable situation, and I certainly will not pursue the matter. I ask the President a question. In last year's budget estimates committee some concern was expressed about replacement of the chiller on level 1. What is the current situation with the replacement of that faulty chiller? What remedial action has been taken?
The PRESIDENT: Installation of the new gas engine chiller resulted from the fact that there was a fire due to a malfunction, which required the replacement of the old chiller. What has now been put in place represents a final and somewhat unexpected change in our energy efficiency plan. In recent years we have installed low-energy lighting which has not only reduced electricity consumption but also reduced the heat generated by high-energy lighting, which is costly to remove from the building. We have reviewed our operating practices and introduced new measures to shed energy loads at the most costly times. We have installed power factor correction equipment which makes the electricity we buy more efficient. In 1995 the Speaker and I approved development of the building's energy diesel generator to provide the basic electrical load for Parliament House.
CHAIR: For the information of members of the public, this hearing is being held at the same time as the House is meeting. That is a division bell and members are required to vote in the division. Therefore the Committee will take a short adjournment.
CHAIR: For the benefit of the President and the Financial Controller, we agree in principle that the media can take photographs and televise or broadcast Committee meetings. A photographer from the Daily Telegraph has specifically asked for permission to take photographs. That is permissible
under the rules. Mr President or Mr McGill, do you have any objection to photographs being taken?
The PRESIDENT: Mr Chairman, it is a matter for you and your Committee by resolution to determine to what extent this hearing is open to the media and the public. That includes your determining by resolution what access is given to the media, including televising procedures and taking photographs. But the resolution of this Committee is restricted to this committee room.
CHAIR: The Committee has resolved that it can be done.
The PRESIDENT: That is a matter for the Committee, but I make the point that it is restricted to this room.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: The Committee has given permission, so I think the hearing should proceed.
CHAIR: I ask that the photographer be advised that she may take photographs for a couple of minutes and then leave the meeting. The hearing shall now continue, with three minutes remaining for Opposition questions.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: It is my understanding that the President was in the middle of an answer when the hearing was interrupted.
The PRESIDENT: In view of the restricted amount of time available, I shall bring my answer to a conclusion. The installations of both the generator system and the gas-engine chiller that was recently commissioned have led to an enormously efficient energy-producing system of this building that saves the Parliament a great deal of money and also earns the Parliament money in that it shares the system with both the State Library and Sydney Hospital. The installations were completed on time and under budget. The added design feature of cogeneration with the chiller will operate as the central energy plant base refrigeration capacity, and, for example, the heat captured from the engine will be pumped back to the energy plant hot-water supply. In short, the system is very efficient. The Parliament is a pioneer in this system and has received plaudits all round for setting the example for many other similar installations throughout the State.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I draw the attention of the President to the answer on notice I received from Mr McGill to the question I asked about parliamentary travel. Mr McGill's statement is that he has been advised that the Committee does not have the authority to inquire into those matters. I place on notice that I further ask that the issue be reconsidered by Mr Speaker in order that the Committee may be given a better answer. I also ask to what extent the buildings of Parliament House are used by other people and to what extent cost recovery is achieved.
The PRESIDENT: I should like to ask the Committee whose tape recorder is on the table. Who put the recorder there, and did that person have the Committee's authority to do so?
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: This hearing is public, so it should not really matter.
CHAIR: At previous hearings radio station microphones have been placed in front of witnesses.
The PRESIDENT: I should like to know whether the Committee's authority has been given.
CHAIR: The microphone does not belong to the Committee; it belongs to a media representative.
Stuart Washington: I am Stuart Washington, from AAP, and I placed the microphone on the table. It is not my microphone; it belongs to the ABC.
CHAIR: The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti has asked a general question about the use of the Parliament House buildings and cost recovery.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: That is correct, and I question the nature of the cost recovery by various groups.
CHAIR: The question may have to be taken on notice because it does seek details.
The PRESIDENT: I should be happy for that to be done.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: There has been much criticism of a recent trip to San Francisco by a parliamentary delegation. Could the President inform the Committee how many more overseas trips he has planned for the next 12 months?
The PRESIDENT: Does the honourable member refer to trips I personally shall take?
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Yes.
The PRESIDENT: As President?
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: That is correct, trips that will be undertaken in the next 12 months at the expense of The Legislature.
The PRESIDENT: There are only two of which I am aware. First, there is the reciprocal delegation to Guangdong Province under our sister-State agreement. I should add the Presiding Officers conference that occurs annually for the Australia-Pacific region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The conference is scheduled for the end of July and will be attended by either me or one of my deputies.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Are you saying that there will be only two trips in the next 12 months?
The PRESIDENT: That I am aware of.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: How much money has been allocated for the California delegation return trip to Sydney? How many delegates will attend?
The PRESIDENT: The details of the proposed return visit are not yet determined.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: You were in California for 10 days? Did you not get any indication of how many people would make the return visit?
The PRESIDENT: Only to the extent that they are anticipating a similar number.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: In Budget Paper No. 3, Volume 1, page 33, under the line item Overseas delegation, the 1996-97 budget of $10,000 was revised to $260,000, and the 1997-98 budget is $210,000. Have funds been allocated for this overseas delegation? The amount has increased by nearly $250,000 since 1995-96.
The PRESIDENT: They are purely estimates and, as I believe I explained at the previous hearing, it is extraordinarily difficult for The Legislature to be accurate about estimates that are required to be submitted many months ahead. I believe that the actual figure will be nowhere near that amount, but that is purely a personal opinion.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Would you agree that it is an enormous increase from $10,000 to $260,000 actually spent in 1996-97 and $210,000 budgeted in 1997-98, at a time when a review is being undertaken to see how the staff or expenses of this Parliament can be cut, perhaps from our valuable library, our valuable attendants or our valuable catering service? As a member of Parliament I have a great concern that because such amounts are expended on trips and overseas delegations I will not get the same service from the Parliamentary Library if its staff numbers are cut.
The PRESIDENT: I am confident that you will find little or no change in services in the following 12 months.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Can you assure me there will be no cuts in parliamentary committee staff, who carry out such important research work for committee members? Will there be no cuts in those services?
The PRESIDENT: No, I am not going to give you that assurance. I will assure you that the operations of the Parliament are constantly reviewed to make them as efficient as possible.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: The Government has asked for a 2 per cent cut from The Legislature funding. Where will that come from if not from trips or staff?
The PRESIDENT: Last year cuts in excess of $1 million were imposed on The Legislature and the Parliament was able to absorb that by effecting operational efficiencies, which is a good thing. I would seriously question whether in the past 12 months you have detected any diminution of services available to you as a member.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Are you saying that for all these years there has been an inefficient, wasteful running of this Parliament and in the last 12 months we have been able to save $1 million without affecting any services?
The PRESIDENT: No. What I am saying to you in effect is, and I give you the experience of quite a number of years as a Presiding Officer, that this Parliament has progressively operated more efficiently. I gave you an example of that in my answer to the last question. Cogeneration and the chiller are saving very large sums of money. The budget of the Parliament is very much dictated by the hours that the Parliament sits. For example, as I said at a previous hearing, if this Parliament decided to sit from 9 till 5, we would save in excess of $1 million per year in overtime.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Can you guarantee that the excellent cleaning service in this Parliament that is undertaken mostly by migrant women will not be privatised?
The PRESIDENT: No, I cannot because currently we are embarking upon a further review of all services rendered in Parliament to see whether they can be delivered more economically. However, Mr Speaker and I have made a policy determination that whenever there is a decision to cut down staffing or bring in, for example, more part-time security staff rather than full-time security staff, as we have over a number of years, we do not make people redundant and dismiss them. Staff cuts are almost always achieved by natural attrition.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I am asking about the privatisation of a group of cleaners, who, as I said, consist overwhelmingly of migrant women in sometimes difficult economic situations. I would like some assurance that consideration will be given to this special category of people in our Parliament.
The PRESIDENT: Of course. The Hon. Franca Arena should know me well enough to know that I am more a man of compassion than hard-heartedness.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: In retrospect, do you believe that our parliamentary delegations should comprise many fewer than 11, and could achieve exactly the same effect? If five people had been sent to California, we would have been spared much criticism from the media and the community. I agree that our parliamentary delegations are valuable, but they should not comprise 11 people.
The PRESIDENT: The size of the delegation depends on a number of factors. The first is the significance of the occasion. This was a significant occasion. For example, normally a delegation would not include both the President and Mr Speaker. It also would not normally include both Clerks. However, this was an inaugural visit under a special arrangement and those numbers will certainly not recur in that sister-State relationship. The Parliament can determine through its Presiding Officers - and we are always open to advice - what size delegations should be. But you should know, as I do, that traditionally parliamentary delegations comprise a leader, being one of the Presiding Officers, a Clerk, being one of the Clerks, four members from the lower House, two members from the upper House plus an administrative officer. That totals nine. If the Parliament wishes or if Mr Speaker and I determine that the numbers should be fewer, owing either to circumstances or financial constraints, certainly we will move to fewer people.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: When the community and many different areas of government at State and Federal levels are asked to pull in their belts, to make sacrifices and undergo cost cutting, this Parliament should lead by example and have smaller delegations. I ask you kindly to take that necessity into consideration.
The PRESIDENT: I will certainly take that into consideration. Perhaps you might assist the cause you espouse by raising this in the Labor Party caucus.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I certainly will.
The Hon P. T. PRIMROSE: At the last hearing I asked about the Parliamentary Library. I have been a member of this House for only a year and therefore have no way of judging the situation over time. However, recently I have been researching a matter relating to a bill that is to be introduced. I asked for a series of books and was told that some were available from interstate but that it would cost money to get them here. As a consequence, I offered to pay for them.
Further, when I asked about obtaining a few books I was told that no funds are available. That is not a criticism of the Parliamentary Library, and certainly not a criticism of you, Mr President. However, given the importance that I and other members attach to the effective operation of the Parliamentary Library I am concerned that further operational efficiencies are required. It would seem to me that that is not an efficient way for members to go about obtaining resources. As I said, that is not a reflection on the Parliamentary Library, but if further efficiencies have to be achieved, that is not the way to do it. Could you comment?
The PRESIDENT: You mean about calling on other libraries?
The Hon P. T. PRIMROSE: No. My concern is that we are at a point where the Parliamentary Library has expressed concern about having to pay a small fee for bringing in books from interstate.
The PRESIDENT: I assure the Hon. P. T. Primrose that every department of this Parliament - like every subdepartment of every department of State which is put under any kind of financial constraint - produces many reasons as to why services have to be cut, or services cannot be provided, or how they cannot do it. That is but human nature. However, my experience over a number of years is that the New South Wales Parliamentary Library, with the possible exception of the Federal Parliamentary Library, is one of the most advanced in the Commonwealth of Nations. It would surprise me - and I will certainly take it on
board and investigate it if you refer details to me - if you did not receive what you wanted for a relatively small cost, if it were so, from the existing library budget.
The Hon P. T. PRIMROSE: I repeat that no-one, particularly me, challenges the value of the library. It certainly provided the material, in the end. But I am concerned that the library is under such constraint that it has to start pinching pennies. I believe that of all the facilities and services in this Parliament, one that should not be constrained is the Parliamentary Library.
The PRESIDENT: I agree with you. Indeed I have taken an interest in this library over many years. I have seen it develop from something relatively primitive to a state-of-the-art facility. As I said, I do not believe that the so-called constraint placed on you, from what you have told me, was valid.
CHAIR: As a member of the crossbench, I now have the opportunity to ask questions, and I shall follow up on questions asked by the Hon. Franca Arena. Mr President, would you explain the value of the sister-State agreement signed between New South Wales and the State of California, in general terms?
The PRESIDENT: This Parliament thought that the sister-State agreement was of sufficient importance that last November both Houses passed unanimous resolutions establishing the agreement. As is well known, New South Wales has sister-State relationships, which have developed over a number of years from the days of Premier Wran, with the Tokyo Metropolis, with the Seoul Metropolis, and with the Guangdong Province of southern China. The implementation of these relationships extends not only over The Legislature but also over the Executive Government, business, education, culture, sport - the whole gamut of interrelationships between communities foreign to each other.
It is significant that all of our sister-State relationships exist with the State's very largest trading partners. My personal experience is that these relationships are highly valued by the sister-State provinces. It is not the kind of thing that one can quantify year by year in dollars and cents. My experience is that over a number of years they develop a whole network of relationships which filter through into all the activities of the communities that I named earlier. I am supportive of these relationships and they require attention to maintain them. But I personally take the view that we are a shrinking global village; investment both ways is becoming less national and more international. These are relationships that we neglect at our peril.
CHAIR: Could you explain the procedures for reporting on the various contacts in the areas of tourism, trade, business, et cetera, made by the recent joint-party, joint-House delegation to California for the sister-State agreement? How do you bring together the reports and benefits of the visit?
The PRESIDENT: The report will be in two parts and will be delivered to the Parliament. The first part will be delivered before both Houses rise at the end of this two-week session. The second report will be tabled at some future time, based on the transcripts of all of the sessions involving legislature, government and private sector visits that we made in California.
CHAIR: As we all know, the Olympic Games will be held in Sydney in AD 2000. Was that a feature of the visit? Was there any response by the State of California Assembly or Senate?
The PRESIDENT: Everywhere we went our hosts asked about the 2000 Olympics. The most positive question came from the President of the Californian Chamber of Commerce, who is a former Secretary of State in California. He made the point that his chamber would be closely investigating the possibility of linking into the Olympics 2000 with some kind of trade business delegation display. They will investigate this not only on a one-way basis but on a two-way basis relative to the established sister-State relationship.
CHAIR: There has been some controversy about how the delegation's airfares and accommodation were financed. Can you inform the Committee of the net cost to the New South Wales budget of that delegation? I understand that some corporate sponsorship was involved on the Californian side of the visit.
The PRESIDENT: Traditionally with a sister-State relationship delegation, the visiting delegation pays for its transportation to get there. The host State picks up all the expenses within the host State, including accommodation and ground transport. That is the basis upon which this delegation went to California.
CHAIR: Is it possible to put a figure on the net cost to the New South Wales budget?
The PRESIDENT: It is shared between the two Houses of the Legislature pro rata on the basis of attendance. I am at liberty to give and can give
the Committee the cost relative to the Legislative Council component. I cannot give the cost relative to the Legislative Assembly component.
CHAIR: Would you like that question on notice, or can you give the approximate cost?
The PRESIDENT: I would rather take the question on notice so that it is accurate, but we can do it within a couple of hours.
CHAIR: Are there any plans for a return visit to New South Wales by a combined Californian State Assembly and Senate delegation? When will it occur and how will it be financed?
The PRESIDENT: The proposal under the protocol is that in this first year the Californians will make a return visit of similar size in the latter part of this year and on a similar financing basis to that which I just described to you.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: Would the Hon. Franca Arena be willing to table the questions she asked of the President and direct those same questions to the Speaker and to Mr McGill?
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I do not see the point. Why would a member ask me such a question? This Committee was set up by a resolution of the Legislative Council in absolute disregard for what the lower House wanted. It did not want to come to any agreement. The Legislative Council does its own thing. We cannot expect the Legislative Assembly to cooperate if we do not cooperate, so I will not do it.
CHAIR: The Hon. D. J. Gay is asking the Hon. Franca Arena to ask questions on his behalf. I suggest that the honourable member put those questions on notice to the Financial Controller under his name.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: I would be perfectly willing to put on notice to the Speaker the questions asked by the Hon. Franca Arena of the President, as she seems to have some problem asking the same questions of the Speaker that she asked of the President. I will first have to read Hansard to check them.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I make the point that there is joint management by the two Presiding Officers. The Hon. Franca Arena was quite emotive when talking about the cleaning services. Is there a timetable for upgrading the ageing and nearly unserviceable computers of members of the Legislative Council at Parliament House, given the move to on-line services such as Lotus Notes?
The PRESIDENT: The short answer is yes, but I ask the Clerk to find some detail on that.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I am happy to have the answer tabled.
The PRESIDENT: We will give you that answer.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Given the uncontrollable nature of the number of Legislative Council sitting days, and the despair of honourable members about the behaviour of the Legislative Assembly in sending on legislation for review, what steps will you take if the upper House sits an extraordinary number of days, as it is likely to do this year?
The PRESIDENT: Steps in relation to what?
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Costs will go up dramatically because of the excessive number of days we will be sitting. We are sitting five days a week now, for three weeks, which is unusual.
The PRESIDENT: We make an intelligent guesstimate when we do the estimates, which you have before you, as to what times we think the House might sit. If it goes beyond that we have to take the cost out of other parts of our budget. We have the facility of a certain level of global budgeting, but we might have a surplus, for example, as the year goes on because certain committees have not been able to do the work they forecast in the time available. That surplus would be absorbed in the sittings of the House beyond what we guesstimated. If we get to the point at which the budget of the Legislative Council is exhausted - and we are just about lineball this year - and we go over that, we have to negotiate with other parts of the Legislature, that is with the joint departments and the Department of the Legislative Assembly, to find other surpluses. It would be fair to say that over the years a fairly civilised attitude has been adopted in that regard, which is one of the advantages of global budgeting introduced by the Greiner Government. We can move money around, and that is the way we do it.
The Committee proceeded to deliberate on the recommendation of the vote.