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Wednesday, 9 March 2005
Page: 132


Senator CONROY (6:44 PM) —Thank you, Minister, for those words. While I absolutely take on board your comments that it is perhaps a blunt instrument to try and resolve this, and while I certainly take your word and the good faith with which you put it forward, you will not always be the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. I know, because I know you are going to get promoted one day to higher office. I have to say, while I trust your word, I am a bit suss on the word of a few of your colleagues. This is the best way for us all to rest easy at night over this issue so that we can all enjoy the Socceroos in 2006 and 2010 qualifying and going on to sensational performances.

I have lived through the last couple of qualifying campaigns. I was at the MCG that night when we led 2-0 against Iran, and I still have memories. I already had my holiday to France booked. I still went, and I had a great time. I got to go to the semifinals and finals of the World Cup, despite the fact Australia had been knocked out after being so tantalisingly close. We led 1-0 against Uruguay—it was a great win against Uruguay in the first leg, the home leg—to ultimately go down away from home. I have every confidence that Frank Farina and the boys will get there this time, certainly with a fairer allocation of World Cup spots. I hope that the Soccer Federation—or the Football Federation, as they want to call themselves now—are able to negotiate with FIFA so that Oceania, our group, gets automatic qualification. That will mean that the Socceroos have a very strong chance of qualifying in the future.

While, as I said, I certainly trust your good wishes and bona fides on this, Minister, I am a little suspicious about a couple of your colleagues. In a few years time, when you have moved on to higher things, this amendment will mean that soccer fans in this country can rest easy. It will be a little harder to actually remove this. It will require an amendment in parliament. So it is not impossible for it to be ultimately removed if free-to-air do not want to purchase it, but this will give comfort to the many hundreds of thousands and millions of soccer fans around Australia. So I urge the Senate to support this amendment and I hope that it is successful.

Question agreed to.