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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3968


Dr CHARLESWORTH —My question is directed to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism. In view of the fact that this week coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956, can the Minister advise the House of the achievements of the Australian Institute of Sport during the past year and the likely impact of its programs on Australia's future international performances?


Mr JOHN BROWN —I am glad that the honourable member for Perth, who of course is a very distinguished Australian sportsman, has asked this question because, as he says, this week we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. I suppose in some way the 1956 Olympic Games were an apotheosis for Australia; they were the first instance of Australia being recognised not just as an international power but as an international power in sport.

In some ways the 1956 Games led to the golden era of Australian sport, the 1950s and 1960s, when Australia certainly overwhelmed the world in a whole variety of sports. I suppose it is fair to say that in the intervening period Australia's performance has slipped, not so much because of a lack of talent in Australia but just because of a lack in some ways of government support for the great sporting talent we have always had, in contrast with the enormous support given by other countries to their elite athletes. Fortunately, and to the great credit of a former member from the opposite side who did know something about sport, the Hon. Bob Ellicott-who, by the way, was last night honoured with life membership of the Institute of Sport-the Institute of Sport was formed. I can tell the House that we are now on the verge of another golden era in Australian sport.

Let me just refer to performances in the last 12 months. The Australian hockey team, basically composed of scholarship holders at the Institute of Sport and of course including the honourable member for Perth, has won the world championship. The honourable member for Perth, the veteran of the team, was named the man of the series and obviously is the most distinguished hockey player in the world. It is significant that the AIS junior boys under-16 tennis team won the world championship in the last fortnight. So, Australia is well on the way back in tennis. Our women's water polo team in the last 12 months has won the world championship. The men's junior squash team from the Australian Institute of Sport has won the junior world championship. One of our female athletes in the squash unit has won the world individual women's championship. Our netball team from the Institute of Sport is the world champion team. In a whole variety of sports, we are once again exhibiting superiority on every international scene.

To sum up, I guess it is fair to say that this Government, with its continued interest in sport, has managed to raise our international status and standing in sport to the extent that now Australians, emulating the performances of their elites, are now participating in sport in great numbers, which is the sort of thing that this Government has set out to do. On top of that, I think it should be noted that the Institute of Sport has a sports medicine and science group, the Sports Science and Medicine Centre, which is recognised as the best in the world. So, in answer to this question, Australia is once again on the threshold of greatness in world sport, simply because this Government, following the very tentative lead of one member of the previous Government, Mr Ellicott, has built the Institute of Sport into the best such institute in the world. I think this demonstrates very markedly how silly the Leader of the Opposition is if he continues with the line of the New Right that sport is something in which governments should not be involved. There is no support for him in the sporting organisations around Australia. In fact, he is a laughing stock.