THANK you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this important and historical bill the Pacific Games 2023 Bill 2016.
And Sir I do so on behalf of the Parliamentary Opposition, and my Constituency.
Mr Speaker, at the outset let me thank and congratulate the DCC Government for bringing this very, very important bill to parliament.
Sir, in particular, I wish to sincerely thank my good friend, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs for his able leadership in ensuring that this bill comes to parliament not long after we won the right to host the games.
I also wish to acknowledge the efforts of his Permanent Secretary, the AG Chambers, Chairman and members of the National Sports Council, the President and Members of NOCSI and other key stakeholders who have worked so hard to bring this bill to Parliament.
Sir, it was an honour and privilege to be part of the successful bidding team that went to Vanuatu under the leadership of the Prime Minister, and to have assisted in presenting our bid to host the 2023 Pacific Games.
Sir our moment of euphoria has now subsided and we will from now until 2023 work extremely hard to put to reality the nice presentations we made in Vanuatu that convinced the Games Council to award the hosting of the 2023 Pacific Games in our favor.
Mr Speaker this bill as we all know provides the legal framework within which the activities that will culminate to the 2013 games are legally executed in the most effective and efficient manner.
As rightly echoed by the Deputy Prime Ministry this bill sets out the grand plan within which all the activities concerning the 2023 Pacific Games will be managed.
As all of us would agree, time does not wait for anyone and time flies and therefore we must start now.
Mr Speaker, the challenge ahead will not be easy especially when we are trying to put in place a legal framework to administer the Games in accordance with the Pacific Games Charter.
This bill has put us in the right direction to start this enormous journey.
Sir as outlined by the Minister, the main objective of the Bill is to facilitate the hosting of the Pacific Games 2023.
As envisaged in the bill, it will:
- Establish the administrative structure for the organization and hosting of the Games and establishment of different administrative bodies or entities.
- Management of funds and non-financial assets required to host the Games.
Sir, as indicated in the Bills Committee report, two of the most fundamental aspects of the bill are Sports Solomon Fund and the source of funding for the running of the Games.
These are important aspects that I believe will determine the quality of sporting facilities we expect to build and to make sure the running of the Games is properly financed and managed.
On this note Mr Speaker, this Government and future Governments must take the responsibility to continue to inform this House and the people of the progressive reports of developments leading up to the Games.
As such, it is appropriate that timeframes must be put in place to avoid last minute setbacks.
Mr Speaker, I also endorse the recommendation by the Bills Committee on the importance of maintaining the independence of the three bodies particularly the Pacific Games National Hosting Authority, the Pacific Games Organizing Committee and the Pacific Games Facilities Committee.
These three bodies, I understand, will be given the authority to administer and manage the 2023 Games as proposed by this Bill.
Sir, my only concern is that whilst the three bodies are expected to be independent they must coordinate their work, support each other and work as a team to avoid any setbacks.
Sir, one other issue closely related to the issue I just mentioned is the matter of ensuring that we appoint the right and appropriate people to take charge of these matters.
While I do not want to be seen as being negative in commenting on this bill I am sure we are all concerned that such important responsibilities must not be allowed to fall on wrong hands nor do we want to see cronyism involved in the selection of the people who will take up these important responsibilities.
Let us remind ourselves of the national importance this responsibilities hold, thus these appointments must be based on merit or relevant qualification and experience.
Mr Speaker, on issue of the absence of doping as part of the bill; I support the recommendation made by the committee for a separate Bill to supplement the Pacific Games 2023 Bill.
Sir, it is important that we keep up to the standards and requirements of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) as the core document that harmonizes anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sporting organizations and among public authorities around the world.
In that regard, we also express our seriousness in encouraging anti-doping in the 2023 Games.
Sir, on that note I acknowledge the Government’s assurance that a separate Bill on anti-doping will be brought to Parliament this year.
Mr Speaker, the preparations and hosting of this Game will not be an easy task but I am confident that we can do it.
It is not impossible if we all work together to create history for ourselves and leave behind a legacy for our children to be proud of.
Sir, the challenge now is for the government to take the lead after passing this Bill to put in place the required entities to ensure the proper management and implementation of activities in preparation of the 2023 Pacific Games.
Sir, I know that the government needs not to be reminded that six years is not a very long time if we take into consideration the huge task of building infrastructures and many other aspects of staging the event.
Mr Speaker, hosting the games is an opportunity for our country to build modern, quality, and international standard sports infrastructure and facilities for our youth, children, and schools.
These sporting facilities must be of international standard so that we can continue to use them to host regional and international sporting competitions after the 2023 Pacific Games.
I understand that some of the facilities such as accommodation will be expansion of current school accommodation or dormitories.
This is a good approach, Sir.
However, Sir, the size and scope of the actual sporting facilities must be within our capacity and capability to maintain.
It’s no use building white elephants that will be under-utilized and difficult to maintain after the 2023 Games.
There are certain countries who have hosted big sporting events in the past and are still struggling to repay loans let alone maintain these facilities.
We have to learn from these lessons.
Sir, it would be great if the sporting facilities we build for the games are ready by 2021 or 2022 so that our athletes can use or train at these facilities before the Games.
Sir, a major part of the preparations for the 2023 Games falls on the shoulders of the various sporting associations in our country to prepare and train our athletes for the Games.
It is them that will do us proud when they stand on the podium and the national anthem is played, and our flag is raised when they receive the medals.
We must aim high to get more medals than ever before and thus train accordingly to achieve this goal.
Our athletes must not only be trained to be fit and competitive in their respective sports but must also be disciplined.
This is an area we have weaknesses in.
Those selected athletes that will be in the respective sports teams must not smoke, chew betel nut, or consume alcohol.
Finally Mr Speaker, part of preparing for the 2023 Games is the beautification of our city, the Host City, Honiara.
I understand the Honiara City Council is already thinking about plans and strategies in this regard.
And as the Deputy Prime Minister said yesterday these plans and strategies to beautify Honiara city will be firmed up following the passage of this bill and the establishment of the various entities outlined in the Bill.
Sir, the residents of Honiara City too must be prepared to warmly welcome the regional sporting contingents and our guests in 2023.
Mr Speaker, the opportunity and responsibility is on us to take the lead.
Let us start the process and allow those in the next House and Government to complete the task.
But the onus is on all of us, all Solomon Islanders, to make our nation proud as a worthy host and leave a legacy for future generations.
Sir, with this few remarks I support the bill.
By JEREMIAH MANELE
(Speech on the Pacific Games 2023 Bill 2016)