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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2715

Mr STEWART (Lang) (Minister for Tourism and Recreation) - by leave - The document I am about to table will, I hope, start the ball rolling for sport and recreation in Australia. Prepared by Professor John Bloomfield from the University of Western Australia, this paper, all 97 pages of it, lays the foundations for a new era in this long, often sadly neglected field. Let me make it abundantly clear at the outset that the Bloomfield report, as this paper has become known already, was not striving for totality. It is more of a medical textbook than a series of prescriptions for isolated ills. It will take a great amount of detailed elaboration to get the various projects off the ground. Almost non-stop, we are adding to our armoury of knowledge in these fields, drawing on every available source both in Australia and overseas. But we had to start somewhere and, Mr Speaker, I think this is a very fine start.

Permit me to give you a very brief run down of this report which, as from today, forms the basis of our planning, and which will supply most of my Cabinet submissions and Budget requests. Entitled 'The Role, Scope and Development of Recreation in Australia', the report lucidly explores the present state of affairs in a range of related areas. It sets out the general principles which we want to adopt for a national recreational program, involving not just a few groups in isolated recreational pursuits but the whole of our community. Organised sport, largely amateur sport, is another vital target area we are aiming at and the Bloomfield report paints a realistic picture of our enormous needs and makes positive recommendations for their fulfilment.

Sport offers the most fundamentally democratic social order one could imagine; it ignores inherited prestige and offers an equal chance for all. It can be the most marvellous leveller in a healthy, democratic community. The Bloomfield report sets out a number of recommendations we will have to adopt if we are to lift sport out of its under-privileged status. This, like our recreational program, will cost money, but not nearly as much as our social security or health programs. I feel it is time Australia joined the ranks of those numerous developed countries which realised some time ago that a two-way relationship can successfully operate between sport and the state. Sport and recreation can repay in the form of regeneration what the state gives in material support.

A German philosopher, Baron Weizsacker, said recently that man's physical and mental capacities are not opposing but complementary factors. Yet, he said, that in our movementdeprived working life, ever greater demands are made on the mind while the physical capacities are withering away. This is the situation in Australia today and we are not equipped to cope with it. But what will happen in 10 years time or by the year 2000 when the balance between working hours and leisure time will move explicitly towards leisure, when man may have 3, perhaps even 4 days at his disposal to spend on intellectual or recreational pastimes?

Mr Speaker,I believe this is not Utopia but a predictable future; this is not science fiction but a course that can be charted using logic, economic intelligence and, above all, ordinary common sense.

We must begin at once to implement a broad policy which, along many parallel lines, launches a variety of schemes. Our job is to prepare for these certainties, to make firm plans and translate them into positive, visible and tangible action. With the certain increase in leisure time, with the equally certain yearning of man to escape, however temporarily, from a highly industrialised and urbanised routine existence, it is our responsibility to recognise, for the first time in the history of Australia, that recreation and sport should constitute an integral part of our life and, as such, must receive serious attention and much more than token support from our governments.

The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in his policy speech last year, promised such Government recognition and support for the improvement of the quality of life in this country. He undertook that the Government would establish a series of community centres to cater for the young and the old; and that the Government would design large multipurpose centres at schools for use by the students and the local community, to satisfy the need for cultural, sporting, recreational and artistic activities. Mr Speaker, I can now assure you and the House that the Prime Minister's promise will be kept; that such community centres will be established, equipped, staffed and used. This is among the recommendations of this report and their implementation will ensure the sowing of seeds for healthy growth in the field of community recreation.

The report has 74 recommendations, covering the entire spectrum of this very vast field, ranging from the pastoral pleasures of bushwalking to solid support for Australia's exploits in the fields of domestic and international sport. Let me finish this statement with a sad but honest admission: Nobody in this House is more aware than I am of the enormity of the task, of the time it will take to accomplish even half of it. It is possible that it was not just tight-fistedness on the put of previous governments but a failure to recognise the complexity of the problem that ensured that I would inherit virgin territory. I am happy and proud that I did. I believe that with the help of my colleagues in the Cabinet and Caucus and this Parliament, with the full support of my own Department, as well as the necessary co-operation I am seeking from the States, municipalities, recreational and sporting organisations and all others concerned with the health, fitness, well being and happiness of our people, we will be able to make a meaningful start in the right direction. Mr Speaker, I table this paper for the benefit of the House and, I pray, for our people.

I present the following paper:

The role, scope and development of recreation in Australia - Ministerial Statement, 25 May 1973.

Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.

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