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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1236

Mr PEACOCK (Leader of the Opposition)(2.09) —The Opposition wholeheartly supports the motion congratulating Alan Bond, John Bertrand and his crew, Ben Lexcen, Warren Jones, the Royal Perth Yacht Club of Western Australia and all associated with the Australia II team. It was, as the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has said, a magnificent victory which was the culmination of months, indeed years, of sustained effort and determination. Few Australians would have missed, and none of us will forget, the final thrilling stages of the seventh race. It was all that a sporting contest should be-highly skilled, ruthlessly competitive and clearly, though narrowly, won. If the seventh race was the highlight of the series, it was also characteristic of the overall contest and a tribute to the brilliance, professionalism, skill, dedication, courage and sheer doggedness-if one likes-of those involved. Australia II's win has brought accolades from around the world-from Her Majesty the Queen, and, in the message read to the House, from President Reagan. They are justified. All Australians felt a surge of national pride in their achievement, a feat which no other national team has achieved in 132 years and which many regarded as an impossible dream. Australia II achieved that impossible dream and has provided inspiration to us all.

Every aspect of the Australian team's effort is deserving of praise. First and foremost, it was a team effort with absolute dedication and discipline over the long months of preparation and it was a very long haul. For Alan Bond, it was his fourth challenge for the America's Cup. Preparation for the 1983 challenge took three long years of boat design and testing, trials in Australia against the other Australian contenders, Challenge 12 and Advance, and a long and testing elimination round against competitors from Britian, France, Italy and Canada. Clearly it was well planned and skilfully executed and is a model of persistence and determination.

The Australian victory was also a triumph of yachting skill and innovation in boat design and technology, sail making and sail handling and sheer sailing ability. It also demonstrated what we can achieve if we put our minds to it. Not only did Australia II start as the underdog, challenging America's previously unquestioned yachting supremacy but it also came from behind in the series, 3-1 down, and from behind in the final race to win. The team never lost heart and never lost hope. It never gave up. Although it was a team effort, special tribute is due to Alan Bond, whose leadership, imagination, financial backing and boundless energy were undoubtedly the driving force behind the challenge; to John Bertrand and his crew, who demonstrated consummate sailing skills; to Ben Lexcen, whose ability to think the unthinkable produced the marvel that is Australia II which rendered existing 12-metre yachts obsolete; to Warren Jones and the Royal Perth Yacht Club for their management of the challenge; and to Dennis Connor and the Liberty crew, who put up a magnificent fight and gave it everything they had. I should also mention the teams of Challenge 12 and Advance , who of course threw their support and resources behind Australia II after the elimination round.

The Prime Minister has reminded us of the records Australia II has broken in winning the America's Cup. But it has done more than that. It has taught us some valuable lessons as well. Australia II's success vividly illustrates just what can be achieved by private initiative and endeavour, unshackled by government direction and regulation. It shows how qualities in individual Australians of vision, daring and determination can win throught against a powerful competitor when spurred on by incentives. Australia II's success would not have occurred if some highly competent Australians had not been filled with a burning desire to win that Cup. They may well receive considerable financial rewards too, but this was never assured. It was a very risky business. Fortunately, the Government can tax only the last of these incentives. But we must recognise that, unless entrepreneurs can reap financial reward for risk taking, many challenges will be passed up.

Australia II's great victory shows too how the benefits of individual enterprise and risk taking can spread to the whole community. While Alan Bond will doubtless ultimately profit from the Australia II challenge, there will be enormous financial spin-offs to other people. Already there is a rash of products capitalising on the Australian victory. The benefits to the tourist industry in Western Australia and the rest of Australia are obvious. And for our exports generally, the America's Cup is perhaps the best single piece of advertising in years.

But the important point is that these benefits will not all stay with Mr Bond- nor would he wish them to. Nor will they stay with a few big businessmen. They will be widely spread throughout the community, perhaps even to some people who will gain jobs that they otherwise would not have had. Australia II's victory is , therefore, an inspiring example for us all. It should strengthen our faith in the ability of Australians to win through in a harshly competitive world. If future Australian defences of the Cup embodies those qualities displayed by the Australia II team, I have no doubt that the America's Cup will remain in Australia for a very long time indeed. The Opposition takes pleasure in supporting the motion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Mr SPEAKER —I advise the House that last Tuesday, on behalf of the House, I conveyed a message of congratulations to the Australia II team. However, as requested by the House, I will convey the terms of this resolution to those concerned.