Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt-Chief Opposition Whip) (19:39): It has been an exciting fortnight with the Olympics underway in London. I am sure I am not the only person here who has had a few late nights over that time, caught up in the drama of seeing Australians on the world stage. Now of course it is time to look forward to the Paralympics and to be inspired by the feats of those with physical challenges who still perform at a level that most of us would not even come close to.
As a country, I think we now need to start looking towards Rio in 2016 and the opportunities that presents. For the last couple of years I have been working in my electorate with the Cairns Business and Sporting Group, putting together a master plan that will enable the region to become the fourth major tropical sports destination in the world, along with Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. We meet all the criteria. With 26,000 hotel rooms we have the capacity. We have the restaurants and other pieces of infrastructure necessary to bring in large numbers of people and, of course, we have a workforce that is trained in hospitality. The problem we in Cairns have with tourism, which is our major industry, is its seasonality. Winter is the peak season but in summer we have huge capacity, which provides us with an opportunity to bring in large numbers of people. The thought behind it is tropical conditioning for the likes of the Rio Olympics. I believe we have only a couple of years to lock this in before that opportunity may well pass us by for a considerable period of time.
There are several pillars in making this happen. We need a performing arts centre. We need a rectangular stadium and a whole lot of other sporting infrastructure, although we have quite a bit there. I welcome the council’s recent commitment to looking at refurbishing the very aged and dated Tobruk pool into an aquatic centre. I have had a lot of positive responses in relation to that commitment. We have a 15-court tennis centre and a range of other infrastructure, including Cazaly’s, whose oval stadium is well advanced, and we have plans for a hockey centre et cetera. On top of that, the recent commitment by the state government for a national institute for tropical health and medicine means that we can have a faculty for tropical sports medicine there as well. All of the pins are lining up. We need to get the community behind it.
Recently we hosted the Prime Minister, who I understand had a fantastic time in Port Douglas for a week. We showed her we can do it. Another famous visitor the region is vying to attract is track superstar Usain Bolt. Local leaders have started a social media campaign called ‘Bolt to Cairns’ to get him to visit this beautiful city on his trip to Australia. They are asking people to post photos of themselves doing Bolt’s famous lightning bolt pose. With over 2,000 friends so far it is gaining huge momentum. I thought that I would take the opportunity to show Usain where to come. If he heads north from Canberra we can get him into Cairns. I would encourage him to do that, because it would help to raise the profile of our city.
Nevertheless, it is time for our community-all our various business and interest groups-and all levels of government to get together and start to look at establishing a tropical campus of the Australian Institute of Sport in Cairns so that we can capitalise on this opportunity. We will create a new industry for our region that will make sure that we have the benefit of being the fourth tropical city in the world that can provide the opportunity of hosting athletes from all around the world to train and compete in our beautiful region. (Time expired)