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Thursday, 26 February 1987
Page: 880

Mr HOLLIS(10.54) —Listening to the Opposition, one wonders why, if it has all the solutions to Australia's economic problems today, during the seven years in which it occupied the treasury bench it did not put any of the solutions into practice. I do not want to concentrate on the Opposition tonight. I want to draw the attention of honourable members briefly to what is a matter of concern to me personally and what should be of concern to all sporting people in Australia. I see the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Martin) is here, and I know that he will support me in this appeal.

My concern is about the future of Olympic wrestling in Australia. Olympic wrestling is likely to be no longer recognised as a sport in Australia and I am afraid that the State governments have played a part in this. There has been a serious dispute over the last 12 or so months within the Olympic wrestling community in Australia. I do not want to become involved in the merits of this dispute. In fact, I do not understand enough of the technical aspects of it, although I have spoken to the President of the Australian Olympic Wrestling Federation and others involved in the sport. There is also the likelihood that this matter will end up in the courts of Australia, so I will not comment on the actual legal implications.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —If the honourable member is telling the House that the matter is before the courts at present-I understand there are some matters being litigated between the wrestling federations of Victoria and New South Wales-he should steer away from that area.

Mr HOLLIS —Indeed, Mr Deputy Speaker, that is why I said that I would not become involved in the actual dispute or the legal implications. What I do want to raise, though, as an issue is how one party to a dispute-whether it is this dispute or any dispute in the community-can receive legal aid to fight a case and another party cannot. It can be argued that the Australian Olympic Wrestling Federation, which represents young sports people in Australia, should not receive legal aid because it is a body, whereas individuals involved in the same case can receive legal aid. In any system that must lead to unfairness, as it gives one party to a dispute an unfair advantage. Sometimes governments, with the best intentions in the world, create bodies which can turn into monsters. I am afraid that in this case that has happened. Surely equity and fairness demand that if one side to any dispute receives legal aid, both sides should receive it. I believe that tomorrow there will be a meeting in Canberra between the Australian Sports Commission and representatives of the Australian Olympic Wrestling Federation, and I hope that the matter will be settled.

I have discussed this matter with the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) and with the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown). I have also discussed it with my State colleagues in New South Wales and with State members in Victoria. It seems to me that the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism feels rightly-and I agree with him-that he cannot become involved in the internal affairs of a sporting organisation. Unfortunately the Attorney- General cannot intervene in the legal aid matter as it is a State matter. The New South Wales Attorney-General is prepared to assist, but I am afraid the Victorians are not. I am very concerned that we are going to lose a sport that Australia has excelled in at the last Olympic and Commonwealth Games. The former President of the Australian Olympic Wrestling Federation, Mr Reg Marsh, of Bowral, is a constituent of mine. He competed in the Melbourne Olympics, and his son is one of Australia's leading Olympic wrestlers.

Mr Martin —The Secretary is a constituent of mine.

Mr HOLLIS —The Secretary is a constituent of my friend the honourable member for Macarthur. I hope that good sense will prevail at this meeting tomorrow, and that Olympic wrestling can take its place again amongst the well- respected sports in the Australian community.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —Order! It being 11 p.m.--

Mr Beale —On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: It is 10.59 1/2. Would you give the call to the honourable member for Fisher.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I do not give the call to anybody unless he is standing. I call the honourable member for Fisher.