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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1235


Mr HAWKE (Prime Minister) —by leave-I move:

That this House-

(1) congratulates all members of the Australia II team on its magnificent achievement in winning the America's Cup, recognised as the most prestigious of international yachting events;

(2) highly commends the sportsmanship, competitive spirit and technical proficiency of the Australian team who with skill and determination won world acclaim and brought great credit to this nation;

(3) recognises the contribution particularly of Alan Bond, Warren Jones, John Bertrand and Ben Lexcen to the success of this venture;

(4) acknowledges with appreciation the sportsmanship and sterling performance of Dennis Conner and the crew of Liberty who together, in true American tradition, put up such a great contest, and

(5) requests the Speaker to convey the terms of this resolution to those concerned.

A week ago today all Australians joined together in spontaneous celebration of the victory of Australia II.

Winning the America's Cup was a tremendous feat breaking as it did the longest winning sequence in sporting history. All odds had seemed to be against us.

On its way to breaking the United States' 132- year grip on the America's Cup- the most prestigious of international yachting events-Australia II not only beat worthy challengers from Britain, Canada, Italy and France; it also established a new raft of records for the event. It became, I remind the House:

the only 12-metre class yacht to win two races against a United States defender;

the first challenger in 49 years to win two races-the only others had been Shamrock 4 in 1920 and Endeavour in 1934;

the only challenger to have won a race by leading a United States defender around every mark of the course-fifth race;

the only challenger to have led an American defender to the weather mark in more than one race;

the first 12-metre challenger to take an American defender to a sixth race;

the only challenger to force the event to seven races;

the first challenger to win three races;

the challenger which, in the sixth race, recorded the greatest margin of victory over a defender-3 minutes 25 seconds-in the 25 challenges since 1870.

And, on top of all this, Australia II brought the America's Cup to Australia.

This achievement must rank as among the greatest in Australia's sporting history. It is a victory which has renewed Australia's sense of pride in our abilities and achievements, in our skill and in our determination as a people. Australia II has captured the imagination of men and women the world over and drawn attention to what we Australians are capable of. As Australians we are all deeply appreciative of the achievement.

We pay particular tribute to the contributions of Alan Bond, Warren Jones, John Bertrand and Ben Lexcen to this brilliant success:

To Ben Lexcen, whose unique design work not only had the yachting world guessing, but proved to be the difference in the series. The winged keel and the quality and design of sails used not only guaranteed us the better boat; they demonstrated the imagination and technological flair with which we Australians can match anything the rest of the world can produce.

To Alan Bond whose foresight, energy, enthusiasm and support over so many years made Australia II's victory possible. As President Reagan has observed, Alan Bond represents the kind of tenacity with which Americans and Australians can identify.

To John Bertrand and his crew whose sailing skills and determination were put to the severest of tests and not found wanting.

To Warren Jones and the Royal Perth Yacht Club of Western Australia whose organisational support was an integral part of the success achieved.

To all these men, and to those many others such as the Advance and Challenge teams who assisted in the elimination and final series, we all owe a debt of gratitude.

The skill, professionalism and dedication of all involved are inspirations.

Mr Speaker, I was particular heartened by a message I received from President Reagan immediately following the final race. I should like to share this message with the House. The President wrote:

Dear Bob,

If the America's Cup had to leave the United States, I am delighted that its home will be Australia-at least until the next race.

All Australians must be justifiably proud of the extraordinary team effort, skill and sportsmanship that brought of this magnificent victory.

I hope you will share with all those who had anything to do with Australia II's success my congratulations and those of the American people. One major consolation for us-

The President concluded-

is that the next race will provide a large number of Americans the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Perth as they seek to bring home the Cup.

I can only agree and endorse this expectation. Indeed with this victory Australia has been projected into American minds in unprecedented fashion. Coming on top of the success of Australian films in the United States we are now firmly registered with Americans as a country worthy of attention. The economic benefit to Australia-both directly and indirectly, through tourism and other investments-will be very substantial.

I should be remiss, however, if I did not record Australia's appreciation of the sportsmanship and sterling performance of Dennis Conner and the crew of Liberty. They were worthy opponents who to the very last, in true American tradition, put up a great fight. This, coupled with the courtesy and generosity of the Americans, exemplified by President Reagan's hospitality to members of Australia II, struck a responsive chord in the hearts of all Australians. I know that the people of Australia will want to share their satisfaction and appreciation with the whole Australian contingent on its return from Newport. A number of State and local governments are already planning welcoming celebrations for the victorious team. The Federal Government is also finalising its plans for appropriate recognition. I hope shortly to be able to announce details.

In the meantime we look forward to the twenty-sixth challenge in 1987 off Perth when Australia will be defending the Cup in our home waters. I have every confidence that Australia will then consolidate this year's achievement and demonstrate to the world we intend establishing a new record winning sequence. All associated with this venture have won world-wide acclaim for Australia. They have written a memorable chapter in Australia's sporting history. Accordingly, Mr Speaker, I commend the motion to the House.