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Transcript of joint ress conference: St Clares' college: Canberra: 23 June 2011: Olympic Day; Australia’s prospects for London; sports funding; Australian Labor Party; Lord Monkton



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MINISTER THE HON MARK ARBIB Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development Minister for Sport Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness

TRANSCRIPT OF JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH JOHN COATES OLYMPIC DAY ST CLARE’S COLLEGE, CANBERRA 23 June 2011

E & OE PROOF ONLY

ISSUES: Olympic Day, Australia’s prospects for London, sports funding, Australian Labor Party, Lord Monkton

MINSTER ARBIB: It’s always good to have John Coates with us, the head of the Australian Olympic Committee. We’re here, with under 400 days to go until the Olympics. Today we had a fantastic session with students from St Clare’s College but also other students from the Canberra region with a number of our Australian athletes - athletes who have gone on to win Gold medals at Olympics. I think the students gained

a great deal out of it not just in terms of sport but also in terms of life. How to set your goals, how to overcome challenges, how to really live. I thought it was an outstanding session. During the week we’ve seen Australia’s preparation for the Olympics really start to gain speed. We’ve had some brilliant results in the swimming pool. Stephanie Rice has been outstanding and also Nick D’Arcy beating Michael Phelps in a brilliant swim. So it’s very positive to see the work that our athletes are undertaking. All their determination and persistence is paying off. The Australian Government is supporting the Australian Olympic committee through the Green and Gold Project, almost $3.85 million extra going to Australian athletes to try and help them do their best in London and certainly it looks like the preparation is paying off. So I might hand over to John to say a few words.

JOHN COATES: Very pleased to be here today, I think the Australian Olympic Committee is well known as the body responsible for sending Olympic teams to the Olympic Games but we also have a responsibility, a wider responsibility across sport, to encourage participation. One of the ways that we do that is through programs such as Learn from a Champ. We take Olympians from around Australia, particularly on Olympic Day each year and we give students an opportunity to ask them questions about their Olympic experiences and hopefully for our Olympians to inspire them to participate in sport and just achieve excellence in their every-day life. So it’s a side of the Olympic movement that perhaps isn’t as well known. We also though are very, very keen to work with the Government which has a greater responsibility in terms of participation, the problems of obesity and those things and over the next year we will unpack more

programs with Senator Arbib leading into the London Games which will surely make sure, surely encourage more participation by our children in sport and ensure that all Australian children have access to sport.

MINISTER ARBIB: There is no doubt we want to get kids away from their Play Stations, away from Facebook, away from the TV, outside playing sport. That is what today is about that is why we are working in partnership so closely with the Australian Olympic Committee and that’s what the Australian Government is committed to. Over to you.

JOURNALIST: Will this support continue after the Olympics, after 2012?

Minister Arbib: Well there is no doubt. We’ve got a fantastic relationship with the AOC , we’ve got a fantastic relationship with all our National Sporting Organisations. Sport funding is at record levels and for me, and the Australian Government, it is about ensuring that every kid gets the opportunity to go out and play sport. We know the benefits from playing sport. We know the physical benefits, we know the mental benefits, we know the goal setting that takes place, the team work that kids learn, they learn so many life skills. So what we’re about as a government, what we’re about as sporting community is getting kids away from the Playstation, away from Facebook, away from the TV, outside playing sport getting the benefits from fitness.

JOURNALIST: Does the money go to sporting clubs or does it, you know, go to primarily focusing on schools?

MINISTER ARBIB: Well we provide record funding to the National Sporting Organisations and as part of that they provide participation programs. Programs with local schools and also with local community organisations. At the same time we also provide elite funding to our National Sporting Organisations. It’s about getting the balance right and people ask: “Why does Government support elite sport?” And of course if you are getting results at the international level, if we are putting people on the podium, then what we are doing is we are setting good role models for the kids of Australia. So the better we go in London, if Australia has a good Olympic Games and I’m sure we will, then young Australians will want to go out and emulate their heroes. They will want to go out and run, they will want to go out and swim, they will want to go out and play hockey, play football and that’s exactly what the Government’s trying to do.

JOURNALIST: What if Australia isn’t as successful as you think it’s going to be?

JOHN COATES: Someone will tap me on the shoulder I suppose! (laughs)

JOURNALIST: With 400 days to go how is preparation coming along Mr Coates?

JOHN COATES: Our preparation is good. As the Minister mentioned we’re getting some very good performances across a range of sports. Most of our athletes are moving across to Europe for the European summer and the various world championships. That’ll give us a better idea. But I’m very, very pleased, the additional funding that’s been made available by the Government has made a significant difference. We had dropped off the pace a little bit in the past few years, but as I say, what we are seeing now, particularly with the swimmers, is most encouraging.

JOURNALIST: Speaking of tapping on the shoulder it’s been a year since the famous incident, Kevin Rudd’s assassination, how do you feel a year on from that day? Any regrets?

MINISTER ARBIB: Australians want us to do our jobs. They want us to get on with delivering the services that we’ve committed to and that’s exactly what the Gillard Government is doing. When you look at the work we’re doing with the NBN, with the

broadband, and the discussions that are taking place and the announcement today. When you look at the work we are doing to strengthen the economy - 700,000 jobs created. We’re fighting climate change. This is a Government that is getting on with the job. We are making progress. This is difficult reform. But we know we’ve got a Prime Minister who is working hard, who’s got a plan for the future and we’re right behind her.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) down in the polls. Any regrets?

MINISTER ARBIB: This is a government that has got a number of difficult reforms in front of it. But we are making progress. We are seeing the progress we are making in terms of the NBN and broadband. We are seeing the progress we’re making fighting climate change and we’re working to strengthen the economy with 700,000 jobs created. This is a government and a Prime Minister that has a plan for the future and is working hard to implement it. That’s what Australians expect from us.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) Lord Monckton is giving a speech on climate change and Tony Abbott is going to the same event. In light of his comments about Ross Garnaut (inaudible)?

MINISTER ARBIB: Well I thought Lord Monckton’s comments were quite disgraceful. And certainly I hope Tony Abbott and I hope all Liberal Party members disassociate themselves from those comments. They weren’t appropriate. This is a robust debate and I think that people should just think about what they’re saying. It’s important that we all have a say. It’s a very robust debate, but let’s keep it decent.

ENDS.