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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 404

Mr JOHN BROWN (Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism)(8.14) —In reply-In closing this debate there are a few things I would like to say. I thank four of the five contributors to this debate for the very positive aspects on which they focused in this debate. There are very few debates in this House about institutions as laudatory and, in some ways, as spiritually uplifting as the Olympic movement. It has given me great satisfaction to have introduced this legislation into the House. There are 157 countries in the Olympic family, 157 countries competed at Los Angeles. Australia is only the second country to introduce this legislation which is so desired by the International Olympic Committee to protect and maintain the dignity associated with its logo, the five Olympic rings. Juan Samaranch, the Chairman of the Olympic Committee, is so thankful to Australia for joining the United States in being leaders in this legislation that he is coming to Australia in the next week or so to thank the Government personally.

Australia's record in the Olympic Games is without parallel. Only three countries have supported the Olympic Games on every occasion since 1896: Australia, England and Greece. We had the great satisfaction recently at the International Olympic Committee annual meeting in Lausanne of seeing a very distinguished Australian Olympian, Kevan Gosper, a friend of most honourable members in this House and certainly a friend of the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), elected to the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee. There are only 11 people on that Committee. It is very likely that when Samaranch steps down in 1992 Kevan Gosper will be the front runner to be the next chairman of the Olympic Committee. That sounds like a pretty ho hum thing I suppose-chairman of another committee-but when one investigates it one realises that since 1896 there have been only four chairmen: the Baron Pierre De Coubertin, Avery Brundage, Lord Kalinin and, now, Juan Samaranch. So for an Australian to be aspiring to be chairman of what is one of the most powerful committees in the world, if not one of the most influential, is something of which we should all be proud.

Dr Charlesworth —Hear, hear!

Mr JOHN BROWN —The `hear, hear' comes from my colleague the honourable member for Perth, and I do not think I should add to the eulogies that have been contributed to Dr Charlesworth by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Ronald Edwards), the honourable member for Jagajaga (Mr Staples) and the honourable member for Groom (Mr McVeigh). His record in hockey is unsurpassed in the history of hockey in the world, I suggest. Certainly the honourable member for Groom summed it up very accurately when he said that it has been proposed to him-and I am sure it is correct-that if a world hockey team were being picked at this minute Dr Charlesworth, who I am sure would admit that he is in the twilight of his career after a long period in Olympic hockey, would be the first person picked. It is an enormous rap for a very distinguished Australian. So Australia's record in Olympic Games is quite superb.

I acknowledge very freely the statement made by the honourable member for Groom that the $1.4m that I mentioned in my second reading speech for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles was an expenditure I inherited. The honourable member for Groom, then the Minister for sport, had in fact shepherded that piece of legislation through the Government-I freely acknowledge that. I find great comfort in the words of the honourable member for Groom. We must agree to disagree on one aspect only and that is the subject of sporting contact with South Africa. Again, I freely acknowledge that the honourable member for Groom's comments are based on a real sincerity-not on some slavish devotion to right wing politics, but simply his sincere belief, although I believe it is misguided, that sporting contact with South Africa would help our relationship.

I have not mentioned the contribution from the shadow Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism, the honourable member for McPherson (Mr White). It was a fairly petty speech, considering the nature of the subject we are discussing, and quite out of kilter with the contributions from other honourable members. I suggest to the honourable member for McPherson that there are better ways of spending his time in opposition than turning over rocks constantly to try to find some measure of corruption on my part. When I was in opposition-I am sure the honourable member for Kooyong will remember this and I think he will probably acknowledge it-the record of the previous Government in sport over a long period was not good. I must say that after Bob Ellicott's elevation to the Ministry as Minister responsible for sport, and subsequently with the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) and the honourable member for Groom, the record improved greatly. The only time I sought to criticise that Government, although I did not particularly fancy what it was doing in sport, in my whole period as shadow minister was during the boycott of the Moscow Games.

I think that I managed to spend my time in opposition developing a sporting policy which I am quite happy for anybody to look at, and all the things that I said we would do in sport, we have done. Tax averaging was mentioned a minute ago. Tax deductibility for contributions to sport will help the Australian Olympic Federation greatly in its quest to raise the $10m required to send our team to Seoul. It has a $2m contribution, not from the Government but from the Australian public through the Government. It is not the Government's money, it is the public's money that we are giving to the Olympic Federation simply because we believe that that is what the Australian Government should be doing. Tax deductibility for contributions will help the Federation greatly in raising the other $8m.

I could go through a whole range of things this Government has done that are set out in our policy. I am proud to say that the things we said we would do we have done. That is freely acknowledged by the sporting community. So I cannot see a great deal of benefit in the honourable member for McPherson constantly, on every subject, making his contribution on sporting matters a criticism of me. I am not above criticism, for God's sake-I am a politician, like everybody else here. I just wish sometimes that he would make a productive contribution. I do want to mention one particular subject he constantly raises-the cost of cars for me at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. I have been loath to comment on this, and I am glad that the former Minister for Foreign Affairs is sitting here because this involves a matter of international protocol. I ask the honourable member for McPherson just to open his mind a little and think of the stature of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984. Following the boycott in 1980 there was an enormous security problem in 1984. I have never bothered to defend myself before but I will do so now as I think it is worth making the point. At the insistence of the American Government--

Mr White —On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I do not really wish to interrupt the Minister for Sport but I have never mentioned the cost of cars at the Los Angeles Olympics.

Mr JOHN BROWN —You should check the Hansard. You mentioned $15,000.

Mr White —No, it was cars on another trip. I am trying to help the Minister.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member has a point of explanation which is not a point of order, and he is out of order.

Mr JOHN BROWN —At the insistence of the American Government, I stayed at the Biltmore Hotel, along with every other government and Olympic official. At the insistence of the American Government, I was provided with a car-not chosen by us-with an approved security driver. If the honourable member bothered to check with the Olympic movement, and certainly with Dr Charlesworth, he would know that during the fortnight at the Olympic Games I may have travelled, for example, from 5 o'clock in the morning, taking the long trip down to see the rowing, until midnight when I attended the basketball. That is what I was supposed to do. I was there as the Australian Minister for Sport, supporting our Olympic athletes. I must tell the honourable member that I have some letters, which I treasure, from various sports people and from the Olympic Federation about the fact that a Minister of this Government bothered to do that.

The cost of maintaining that car-which was not my choice; it was not my choice to have security guards and all the other paraphernalia-was about $15,000, and that has been the subject of constant criticism that I have never bothered to answer simply because there is an international protocol involved-the security factor. I am getting sick and tired of the honourable member constantly bringing it up, putting it in Press releases and dragging it out on every occasion, even during debate on a Bill like this, which involves the protection of the Olympic insignia. I would have thought that he had a more elevated view of the value of sport on a bipartisan basis than to use this occasion to make another petty attack.

To all other contributors to the debate, I say that they have done something to elevate the stature of our bipartisan relationship on sport in this House. I only hope that in future, despite whatever legitimate criticism the honourable member for McPherson can make of my policy or my actions, he will at least take a more positive view about sport.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.