FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has taken the ‘Bolt to Cairns’ campaign to Canberra, striking the track superstar’s trademark ‘lightning bolt’ pose in parliament last night.
Mr Entsch was speaking during Adjournment Debate on the need to push Cairns to the fore as a sporting destination while Olympics fever still runs hot in the public eye.
And a visit by Trinity Bay State High School students this morning was a further opportunity, the group of 25 kids and two teachers ‘doing the Bolt’ on the Queen’s Terrace of Parliament House.
Addressing parliament, Mr Entsch said it was time to build on the enthusiasm that the Olympics and Paralympics has raised to focus attention on opportunities presented by Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
A key part of this is the work that has been done through the Cairns Business and Sporting Group, whose master-plan aims to position Cairns as the fourth major tropical sports city in the world along with Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
“We meet all the criteria,” Mr Entsch said. “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.”
Mr Entsch said a problem with Cairns’ main industry of tourism was its seasonality, however the summer off-season created huge capacity and 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.”
Mr Entsch told parliament that new infrastructure a performing arts centre, rectangular stadium and hockey centre was essential to complement existing facilities such as the 15-court tennis centre.
“I welcome the council’s recent commitment to look at refurbishing the very aged and dated Tobruk pool into an aquatic centre,” he said. “I have had a lot of positive responses in relation to that.
“On top, 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.”
Here, Mr Entsch raised local leaders’ highly-successful ‘Bolt to Cairns’ social media campaign to bring track superstar Usain Bolt to the “beautiful city” of Cairns on his trip to Australia.
“If he heads north from Canberra we can get him into Cairns, and I would encourage him to do that.”
At this point Mr Entsch enthusiastically struck the pose, to much laughter in the Chamber, while another MP quickly snapped a photo as Chamber staff ‘looked the other way’.
Continuing, Mr Entsch emphasised that in order to capitalise on opportunities, it was time for business and interest groups in the community and all levels of government to get together and focus on establishing a tropical campus of the Australian Institute of Sport in Cairns.
Not only would this create a new industry for the region, but the benefits of being the fourth tropical sports-training city in the world will “provide the opportunity of hosting athletes from all around the world to train and compete in our beautiful region”, he ended.
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Trinity Bay State High School students ‘Do the Bolt’ on the Queen’s Terrace at Parliament House today