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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 396


Mr McVEIGH(5.57) —On behalf of the National Party of Australia, I express our support for the Olympic Insignia Protection Bill. Many of us believe in the high ideals of the Olympic movement and of our sports people. Before proceeding with my speech, I congratulate the previous speaker, the honourable member for Perth (Dr Charlesworth), on his many splendid achievements for his club, his State and his nation on the international playing fields. My contacts in the hockey area tell me that he belongs to the all time greats of Australia in hockey and that, if a world team were being chosen at present, Ric Charlesworth would probably be the first person chosen. On behalf of all parliamentarians, I express the hope that the honourable member's splendid achievements to the present will be but stepping stones to greater achievements in the future. He is an example to all other Australian sportsmen and sportswomen. My information is that he has made his way by expertise and skill rather than by brute force and aggression. These are excellent traits and all young Australian people should follow his example.

I believe there is a bipartisan approach to sport in Australia. I realise that the shadow Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism, the honourable member for McPherson (Mr White), expressed a slightly contrary view; but there is, and there should be, a bipartisan approach to sport. We all glory in our successes and it pains all of us when we lose.

I want to develop a few criticisms of modern Olympics by detailing a little of the history of the Olympics. It is true that modern Olympics have been with us since 1896 when a French baron conceived the modern Olympic Games. They were pretty humble games. One has only to go to Athens to see the original stadium, which is very poor compared with modern stadiums. But the modern Olympics are but the aftermath of Olympic concepts which began in history as a pagan religious festival which, honourable members may believe it or not, centred on fertility. The first Olympic Games which can be verified were held in 776 BC. They continued for an unbroken period for over 1,000 years, with some 320 games staged. They were abandoned in 394 AD when christianity was adopted as the official faith of the Roman empire. The most important feature of the Games was the sacred truce which provided that during the Games no one was allowed to take up arms, all legal disputes were suspended and no death penalties were carried out. The personal safety of everyone travelling to the Olympics was guaranteed.

This brings me to the sad realisation that the original ideals of the Olympic Games have been shattered. Those who had the honour of attending the 1956 Olympic Games-the honourable member for Perth spoke about the East Germans winning only one medal, a silver medal, with their bantam weight boxer-remember that it was just like a friendly Australian sporting contest. All of us are saddened to remember the slaughter of Munich. A tremendous amount of money is spent on security. I submit that that money would be better spent on athletic training and the development of sports medicine. It is about time that all of us got back to the original concept of the Olympics, which is to get the best person, irrespective of the circumstances. Again, I differ from the shadow Minister. I support the view expressed by the honourable member for Perth. Surely the Olympics are about the pursuit of excellence and perfection, about wanting the best person. It is about time we got rid of shamateurism. Last weekend a great Australian sprinter, Paul Narracott, an amateur, won the professional Coonabarabran Gift. He will be allowed to compete in the next Olympic Games. He will be good enough. At least there is a movement towards getting the best person, the best athlete, irrespective of whether he happens to be a professional or an amateur or of whether he engages in shamateurism.

We have to realise that politics should not interfere in sport. We have talked about the Fraser Government's action in regard to the Moscow Olympics. Do honourable members remember the sad face of Raelene Boyle crying real tears on television because of her decision not to go to Moscow and possibly win her first ever gold medal? Did that decision change the policies of Moscow? Did the fact that that country stayed away from the most recent Olympics change the politics of foreign affairs in America? It is about time all of us woke up to the fact that sport is above politics. If we believe in trying to attack those who seek to plunge the world into war, it is about time we got away from our inhibitions and made the world our oyster as far as sport is concerned. I want everyone to know where I stand in regard to sporting contact with South Africa. If we are serious about that country, we must have sporting contact.


Mr Cleeland —White sporting contact?


Mr McVEIGH —Wide sporting contact, I agree, all across the sphere. Why should we prevent all except professionals engaging in sporting contact with South Africa. How stupid it is that the participants in the Davis Cup had a few weeks previously played in South Africa but amateur sports men and sports women are not allowed to participate because they have hanging over their heads the threat of a government withdrawal of their funds. One of the great things that could further world peace and overcome some of the divisions in society would be if we in Australia, free of government intervention and direction-none of this threatening to withdraw funds-sent our rugby side and our cricket team to South Africa. If we send our rugby side, one of the first blokes there to see the Australian rugby side annihilate the South Africans will be me. It will be a great sporting contest, great to see the power and muscle of people such as Rodriguez and McIntyre, whose parents live a few miles down the road from me. It will be wonderful to see the input of that great citadel and nursery of rugby union, Nudgee College make its contribution to sport. Of all the schools in Australia, Nudgee College has produced the real rugby players, the players up in the engine room, the players who can dictate play because it has been engraved in their hearts and minds. So let us cut away the red tape and have real sporting contact with South Africa. We could have pilgrims and official delegates running around the country and the world seeking peace.

As previous speakers have said, the Olympic rings are the modern day symbol of the Olympics. The five rings signify the five then known continents of the world-people wanting to engage in sporting contact, free of politics. The original Greek idea of competition games was to practise sport, not for its own sake but in pursuit of physical perfection. The Games then, as now, were considered as being among the great events of the ancient world and a premier contest for athletes. I am not going to go into details about Australia's contribution. The suggestion of the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) to give the Olympic movement rights to market things near and dear to the movement is excellent and fully supported. Hopefully, as the Minister said in his second reading speech, we will reach the stage where the Australian Olympic Federation will be able to fully fund Olympic teams itself. I want to draw a distinction between the Olympic Games and the training period between the events, which I will come back to.

I hope that the Minister will be generous enough, if he has time, to sum up and to acknowledge what I have said. We have had this debate and the Minister has accepted that what I have said was right. He is not a man who seeks to make political capital on all occasions. The sum of $1.4m which sent the last Olympic team to Los Angeles was an amount of money which I personally piloted through the last Fraser Budget. So it was money which was allocated by our side of politics.


Mr John Brown —Ten out of 10.


Mr McVEIGH —One cannot get any better than 10 out of 10. That is perfection. I am gratified by the Minister's comment, to think that a humble back bench member of the Opposition could get ten out of ten. He should tell the Leader of the National Party (Mr Sinclair) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) that I am of that standard. I accept the Minister's acknowledgment that the $1.4m was our initiative. That was the amount which the Olympic movement at that time asked of us through Syd Grange and Judy Patching. I support the Minister's acknowledgment of their great contribution to the Olympic Games and to amateur sport. They are great people, different personalities. Syd Grange is a man of quiet dignity and simple charm. Judy Patching has the uninhibited freshness of a child-so keen about everything. They were a great combination and I support what the Minister has said about them.

I do not want to correct the Minister. After all, he inherited a Department most of whose officers I trained very well indeed. If the Minister checks page 2665 of Hansard, his second reading speech, he will notice-it is only a simple thing-that Jon Sieben's name is spelt incorrectly. The spelling there is `John' Sieben. Just for the purposes of the record-his mother and father having given him a name-I think that, when one is officially recording things in Hansard, the greatest tribute one can pay a person is to spell his name correctly.


Mr John Brown —You are embarrassing Hansard.


Mr McVEIGH —It is the Minister's second reading speech. I had hoped that by the time Hansard came out in a weekly form some of the excellent officers I trained would have spotted that and have made the correction. I did not want to be seen as a know-all ringing up the Minister's Department saying: `You have insulted Jon Sieben'. After all, he is a Queenslander. At this stage it is too late; but maybe in the yearly volume the Minister will see that Jon Sieben's name is spelt correctly. I always like to pay people the great tribute of calling them by the names their parents so proudly bestowed upon them.

The other point I want to make is that the Minister was very laudatory in his congratulations about the efforts of the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Sallyanne Atkinson, and John Coates. I want to record that, in return, those people were deeply appreciative of the Minister's intelligent interest in trying-that really is the word-like the de Castellas and others, to get those Games to Brisbane. I am grateful to the Minister for his remarks when, on a night which was obviously very disappointing to him, as it was to the rest of us, he put into his place the Labor leader of the Brisbane City Council, Brian Walsh, for his very unthoughtful words when he said that it was just a cheap political exercise. I thought that was so unkind and so unnecessary. We had the Federal Minister, the State Minister and the Lord Mayor--


Mr John Brown —We did not have the State Minister.


Mr McVEIGH —No. He was over on other occasions. They were all over there fighting to get the Games to Brisbane and we had these unkind and uncalled for remarks. I am grateful to the Minister for not playing party politics and for his bipartisan approach in severely reprimanding the leader of the Labor movement in the Brisbane City Council.

In pursuit of sport we also need to realise that it is a professional exercise. We have to do something about encouraging young people. I like the idea of what goes on in West Germany where, if a swimmer happens to be in the first five in the world in any particular event-and I presume, Mr Deputy Speaker, that one must never advertise on this program-one of the car companies makes a car available. But it makes a car available to that swimmer only while he or she remains in the top five. I think that is important. Not only must they be good; they most continue to be good.

Let us be honest and frank. We have an enormous problem in Australia. We are isolated. The European communities have really top class tough competition, as it were, just down the track every weekend, but we do not have that in Australia. That has some unfortunate results. It is pretty sobering. We have not done very well in cricket or the America's Cup-let us be honest. It may be kind to say that it was a bit of a disaster. We were the world champions in swimming a few years ago. No swimmer in Australia in any event, individual or team, now ranks in the top three. Only one, Julie McDonald, a Queenslander, trained by Laurie Lawrence-a great swimmer, a great person and a former rugby union test halfback for our country-is in the top four in the world. Just to illustrate how tough the competition is, she is only four seconds outside of Tracey Wickham's 800 metres world record. When one brings that down to distance in a pool, it is not very much. But she cannot get tough international competition because no funds are available. Her coaches and her family have to resort to the old fashioned way of trying to raise funds through raffles and bingo parties to allow her to attend international competitions.

I suggest, again in a bipartisan approach, that whilst legislation like this may make it possible for the Olympic movement to fund trips for managers and athletes to the Olympic Games there is a vacuum. This $1.4m, which was made available for the last Olympic Games, could be used to allow our athletes to go overseas to get the advantage of tough international competition. We have to realise that, no matter how good their talents are or how much training they get, unless they are tough enough inside they will not measure up.

I happened to have dinner with one of Australia's leading swimming coaches a few months ago and I said: `My friend, if you were looking for a top swimmer, what would you do?'. Maybe he is an aspiring politician-he would certainly make a very good one; he would probably join the great Party-because I thought it was remarkable that he said: `Tom, I would go to a country school, possibly in Queensland-


Mr John Brown —Nudgee?


Mr McVEIGH —No, that is for the older age bracket. He was talking about the younger age bracket. He said: `I would wait outside the school, particularly in a poor area, and when some bully took on a little kid and the little kid took off his school bag and got stuck into the big bully. I would grab him and say: ``Come along, I will make a swimmer out of you because you have got guts''.' That is what we need-people who have got intestinal fortitude. Give them the facilities, but let us remember where Herb Elliott trained. He trained in the sand dunes. Where is Debbie Flintoff training? She is training with worn out surf lifesaving gear, pulling a rubber tyre up and down the beach. That does not cost much except guts and determination. Where did Bradman train? Let us make sure that in spending money we attract the right type of person-the person who has got the will and who can give something on which we can build a solid foundation. I support the legislation.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Rocher) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.