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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13675

Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (19:00): I rise to table a petition that clearly resonates deeply within the Australian community. This is evident by the number of signatures that we received—over 37,374—with thousands more still coming in, which will be presented next year. Lawn bowls plays a vital role in the community, especially in our rural communities. It allows people of all ages to remain active in both a social and competitive environment. A healthy body and mind lead to a healthy life.

It should be noted that lawn bowls does not appeal just to senior members of our community. A Sunday afternoon at the local lawn bowls club is fast becoming a social and cultural norm for generation X and Y. Since the advent of the Active After-school Communities program under the coalition government and sports minister Senator the Hon. Rod Kemp, the passion for lawn bowls has also been ignited in many schoolchildren.

Lawn bowls is not only one of the highest participation sports in the country, with over 800,000 people participating each year, but also one of the most viewed sports. The Moama International Tri Series on 28 May 2011 was viewed by around 500,000 people nationally. More than 200,000 people view bowls each week on the ABC. These viewer numbers do not warrant its cancellation after 30 years of very solid results. In my view the ABC's decision to cancel bowls runs contrary to its obligations under the charter.

Two months ago, as a director of Bowls Australia, I helped launch this important petition to get bowls back on the ABC at my local club, the Malvern Bowling Club, with my friend and colleague the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, shadow minister for seniors, and also with the Chairman of Bowls Australia, Joe Aarons OAM, and CEO Neil Dalrymple. We were joined by Commonwealth bronze medal champion Barrie Lester, who, at age 29, recounted to us the story of how his interest in the sport of lawn bowls was born out of watching it on the ABC. This is just further evidence of the importance of broadcasting lawn bowls on free-to-air TV if we want to encourage the next generation of champions in this country.

Before I hand over to my colleague Bronwyn Bishop to speak about the importance of the ABC charter, I present these 37,374 signatures in this petition to the House.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of Australian citizens draws the attention of the House to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's decision to cancel its broadcasting of lawn bowls on free-to-air television.

The ABC has a Charter set out in section 6 of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 that states it should broadcast programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community and further requires it to provide a balance between wide appeal and specialised broadcasting programs.

Lawn bowls is one of the highest participation sports in Australia with around 800,000 people playing lawn bowls each year.

66% of participants in the sport are over the age of 60 but it appeals across generations with many younger people participating socially in the sport, as well as children participating through structured programs such as the Australian Sports Commission's Active After Schools Program.

Bowling clubs are an important part of the Australian community, particularly in rural and regional Australia.

Over 300,000 people nationally on average view the bowls broadcast each week, increasing to just under 500,000 people for major tournaments.

The broadcast of lawn bowls on free-to-air TV not only provides a service to existing members but promotes and profiles lawn bowls to prospective participants.

We ask that the House support the immediate reinstatement of lawn bowls on the ABC.

from 37,374 citizens

Petition received.