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Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Page: 4196


Ms REA (3:13 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare and Youth and Minister for Sport. Will the minister update the House on the Socceroos World Cup preparations?


Ms KATE ELLIS (Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare and Youth and Minister for Sport) —It is a great pleasure, following Monday night’s victory by the Socceroos over New Zealand, that we can now farewell them, as they have headed off and are in flight on their way to South Africa to represent us amongst the best footballing nations on the planet at one of the biggest sporting events in the world. While Australia has a very long and proud history in the sporting arena, we should not underestimate what a major milestone this is and what a very big event it is. The Socceroos first game may be in just 18 days time, but this has been a very long endeavour in order for them to qualify for what is just their third World Cup and what is the first time we have qualified for back-to-back FIFA World Cups. And of course we did it in emphatic style by first of all taking on Qatar in Melbourne but then travelling around the world pursuing our qualification, doing so with still two games up our sleeves. So we should be incredibly proud of the Socceroos and the efforts they have put in already, but we all know that this is when the real competition starts.

Like all Australians selected to represent us on the international sporting stage, the Socceroos will carry with them the hopes of literally millions of Australians who will be tuning in and following their every move. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Pim Verbeek, who will be coaching the Socceroos for the last time at this World Cup. We would like to thank him for all his hard work and wish him all the best over in South Africa, also acknowledging that we will have a new generation of players out there representing our country while we are also bidding to host this event within Australia.

The squad announced yesterday as having been selected at this point will blend youth and experience. We have Socceroo icons like Lucas Neill and Mark Schwarzer, but we also have future stars like James Holland, Rhys Williams and 18-year-old Tommy Oar, who is setting himself up to provide a brilliant story in Australian sport. Importantly, the World Cup will also be a really significant occasion for us to push our case to host the World Cup in Australia. While our Socceroos will be working incredibly hard on the field, our officials will be out there working incredibly hard off the field to convince FIFA executives and voting members that Australia would be a great host for this major event in the future. This will provide a really important opportunity for us to do this.

I would also note that thousands of Australian supporters will be travelling to South Africa for this event. The supporters will have an incredibly important role as ambassadors for our bid. It is interesting to note that, after South Africa, Australia has purchased the highest number of tickets per capita of any nation in the world to support their team with over 45,000 tickets sold to Australian supporters. To these supporters we say that you will be ambassadors for our bid. You will be out there showing your commitment and your passion for the sport. We would like to wish you very safe travels in doing so.

I would like to remind those supporters of the government’s advice that they access DFAT’s World Cup specific travel bulletins and also that they register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade their intention to travel. On behalf of the government I take this opportunity to farewell the Socceroos and also to wish them every success over there and to let them know that we will be right behind them every step of the way.


The SPEAKER —Order! Despite some niggling from some of his colleagues, I believe the House would allow me to give the member for Moncrieff a short indulgence.


Mr Ciobo —Thank you, Mr Speaker. On indulgence, I simply associate the coalition with the minister’s well wishes for the Socceroos. Go the Socceroos!