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Tuesday, 8 November 1983
Page: 2437


Mr JOHN BROWN (Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism)(11.0) — Tonight we heard a speech from the shadow Minister for sport, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher). In his normal courteous fashion he informed me that he was going to say something about the allocation made to swimming under the sports development grants. I thank him for that courtesy. I think it is fair to talk about the Australian Labor Party's philosophy for sport before I delve into the detail which the honourable member has recounted. It is important to know that this Government views sport not as any form of extension of a political ideal as it might be viewed in other parts of the world, not as any great example of the superiority of the white race of Australians, but as part of the general standard of living in Australia.

I think it is fair to say that Australians have a fetish about sport. It is also fair to say that for seven years under the previous Government sport was the poor relation as far as funding was concerned. I will except from that criticism of the Hon. Robert Ellicott. After the disastrous attempt to ban the Australian Olympic Games team to Moscow Mr Ellicott was able to use his undoubted influence in the Cabinet to set up the Australian Institute of Sport. It remains as a tribute to Mr Ellicott's vision and capacity. I give him full credit for that. But prior to the AIS in 1980 the previous Government's budget for sport was a lousy $3m when the health bill-it should be termed the sickness bill-was $10,000m-3,000 odd times as much.

The previous government regarded sport as a nothing. Now the sports budget approaches $30m. In this Government's first Budget the increase was was 54 per cent on the previous Government's funding. That is the truth. The previous Government's record for sport was absolutely appalling. In one year we have made a 54 per cent improvement in funding for sport. I think all members of this Government are proud of that achievement. The sports development grants to which the honourable member for Mallee referred increased by 75 per cent this year; funds for the handicapped sports persons of Australia have been increased by 100 per cent in one year and funds available for recreational pursuits in Australia this year have gone from nought-which was the previous government's record-to $ 800,000 in one Budget because we happen to believe that Australians, no matter what their capacities, are entitled to have some encouragement from the Government to get off their butts and do something constructive.

Because I do not want to take up too much time I will refer specifically to the complaints about the Amateur Swimming Union of Australia. Last year under the previous Government swimming received a grant of $90,000; this year it received $110,000. Now unless my mathematics are badly wrong that is a 22.222 per cent increase which is a big difference from the figure that the honourable member has cited of 4.5 per cent, which is an absolute mistake. The honourable member ought to check his mathematics. I have the figures in front of me. There is an amount of $90,000 for 1982-83 and $110,000 for 1983-84. The criterion that I employed in deciding which sport would get funding was largely tied up with the number of participants. We want to encourage all sorts of Australians, no matter what their sporting capacity, to do something. The number of participants registered by the Swimming Union is 78,055 and they received $110,000. That includes no junior program whatever.

Let us look at some of the other sports. Cricket, which has 500,000 participants, got $50,000 from the previous Government. It got $130,000 from this Government. That is about a 130 or 140 per cent increase to a sport which is encouraging kids to get out and play. Let us look at another sport. Australian football got $50,000 last year and $100,000 this year. That sport has 491,000 registered participants. Let us look at another one. Golf--


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Minister's time has expired. If no Minister rises in his place, the Minister may continue.