Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Questions without Notice
Australian Institute of Sport
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Sport, Senator Gallagher. Will the government immediately rule out relocating the Australian Institute of Sport away from the ACT after more than four decades in Canberra?
I thank Senator David Pocock for the question and for his interest in the AIS. As I think Senator Pocock knows, we have a review underway—it was announced on the weekend—to look at the AIS and whether it's fit for purpose and to understand the best approach to high performance as we move towards the Brisbane 2032 Games. As Senator Pocock understands, one of issues that will be looked at, which is in the terms of reference, is the location of the AIS. That is one of the issues the review is looking at.
The review is due to report to government by the end of this year, so it is a relatively quick review. But, because there is a review underway, I am not in a position to rule in or rule out anything or the government's position prior to that review reporting. The focus of the government is to ensure that we have the best facilities and that we have the best arrangements in place to deliver what athletes need in the lead-up to those important games. This is work that has to be done. I think everyone who has been to the AIS acknowledges that it has been neglected in terms of infrastructure and support. It's another area that we have inherited. We are working through how to address it.
Well, you had a decade. I understand, Senator Canavan, there were repeated requests for investments in the AIS that were ignored when you were in government. That is the reality of it.
Interject all you like. Everyone who has bothered to go out there and have a look might realise that it hasn't received the investment that it has needed to remain the premier facility that we need for athletes in the future. (Time expired)
We have to do a range of things. Governments have to do a number of things. One of them—I think quite reasonably—as we're looking at the investments we need to make in the lead-up to the Brisbane Games in particular is to look at what the optimal settings are for those investments. That is exactly why we're having the review.
I haven't seen a comparison of relocating and investment in the current location. I have not seen that work. If it has been done, I haven't seen it. That is precisely why we are having this review, which is looking at a range of areas—not only location. It's all about how best we support athletes and provide them with the facilities and investment they need so that they can do what we want them to do, which is to win gold at these events and perform to their highest standard. The review is being done to provide advice to government in a timely way.
Thank you, Minister. Why is the government spending taxpayer money on another review when we have the Australian Sports Commission, who are independent and expert, and they've already said that it's more cost-effective and less disruptive for athletes for the AIS to remain in Canberra?
I understand that the ASC had done a master plan of the site and had costed that, for the former government, and it had gone to the government by way of budget submission and had not been supported. I understand that work had been done. I wasn't aware that a broader review, as is outlined in the review that we are having Ms Flaherty and Ms Smith perform, has been undertaken. I think let's do it. It's a good thing to do. It's going to report within a matter of months. It will provide advice to government, and then we can work a way forward and address some of the deficiencies that those opposite have left us with, such as an AIS that has lacked the investment it's needed to put ourselves, our athletes and our national teams in the position that they need to be in for the upcoming games.