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Reception honouring the Australian Wallabies, 24 November 1999: transcript of address.

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24 November 1999





To Kim Beazley, the Leader of the Opposition, John Eales, John O’Neill, Phil Harry, David Clarke and all the member s of the victorious Australian Wallaby Rugby Union Football team. And in the true spirit of these occasions I’m also delighted to welcome to this gathering the diplomatic representatives of countries such as France and South Africa who have been great and friendly rivals of ours. Can I simply say that I don’t think Australia has gone through a greater sporting year than the year that is now coming to an end. It has been in so many areas - in rugby, in cricket, in netball, in women’s hockey, and so many sports, it has been an exhilarating year.

And I want to say to you John and the members of your team that you have been in every sense of the word magnificent ambassadors for the Australian nation overseas. You’ve not only been wonderful representatives of Australia on the sporting field, but you’ve been wonderful representatives of Australia in every other way. Rugby union has derived an enormous stimulus from your victory. Many of us of course remember the days when Australia’s victories on the rugby field were rather few and far between compared with what they are now.

I can certainly remember some desolate moments in the 1950s on the Sydney Cricket Ground hill having watched Australia play against New Zealand and South Africa when some of the international rules allowing kicking out on the full from anywhere in the field produced a very different game from the more exciting and open game that we now have.

But what you did for Australia’s sporting reputation in Wales and in the UK just a few weeks ago was absolutely fantastic and can I say that, it’s been said before and there’s nothing particularly novel about it but it remains true nonetheless, that of the many things that bind us together as Australians nothing quite binds us together like sporting success. And there was a common joy in all parts of Australia, particularly amongst rugby followers in your absolutely superb victory. And as I said at the welcome home dinner at the Sydney Convention Centre, having been knocked out of the 1995 World Cup with a drop-kick coming from…’s all part of the entertainment fellas. Having been knocked out of the 1995 World Cup with a drop goal from an English player, it was absolutely fitting that a crucial drop goal in the match against South Africa guaranteed that Australia would be in the finals.

So John, this is to you and all your teammates, and all those who supported them, can I particularly say your magnificent coach Rod Mcqueen who really has I know inspired the team and given it tremendous advice and tremendous support. And I also don’t want to, on an occasion like this, to leave out a special word of thanks to the wives and girlfriends of the players. I think they play a very very special part in keeping the team spirit. And finally and most importantly of all, can I say it’s delightful to have ‘Bill’ here in Parliament House. It’s a very affectionate term for a beautiful trophy, and we’re delighted to have it back in Australia. And John this is very much a bipartisan gathering. There are rugby followers of all political persuasions in Australia and that’s why this is an occasion where I’m delighted to invite the Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley, who I think is patron of the Brumbies, to say a few words of support and in welcome to all of you. Kim Beazley.




jy  1999-11-26  09:47