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Sydney 2000 Paralympic Torch design and Torch Relay route announcement, Theatre, Parliament House, 28 July 1999: transcript of address.

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28 July 1999







Well, thank you very much, Lois; to Jackie Kelly; Micha el Knight, the Chairman of SOCOG and New South Wales’ Minister responsible for the Games; Peter Bartels, the Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission; Louise Sauvage and other paralympians, ladies and gentlemen.

I’m delighted to be associated with the unveiling of the Paralympian Torch and to say a few words of very strong support and to express the very strong commitment of the National Government towards the Paralympics to be held in October of next year. I do so with a great sense of pride, of course, as Prime Minister knowing that we have an absolutely superb team of paralympians in Australia. Their gold medal tally at Atlanta was second only and our team in Sydney next year will be the largest and strongest ever.

The Games next year will include 4000 athletes from an anticipated 125 nations. They will be larger than the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, the 1998 Soccer World Cup and the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

The Government is very strongly committed to the Games and we’ve already demonstrated that commitment by contributing a guarantee of up to $25 million of half the expected operating deficit and providing almost $5.5 million for the preparation of the Paralympic athletes and meeting the GST liability on Paralympic ticket sales estimated at $1.6 million. And I’m also very proud, indeed, to have been invited to officially open the Games on the 18 th of October next year.

I want to join Lois in congratulating the Motor Accident Authority for becoming the presenting partner of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Torch Relay. And I encourage other companies, particularly Olympic and Paralympic sponsors to also support the torch relay and, for that matter, the whole of the Paralympic Games.

Lois said earlier that she expected the crowds to be very large and to cover all age groups of the Australian community. And in that connection I’m very pleased to announce today that the Government will be providing special assistance to ensure the attendance of a large number of school children from all over Australia, from all over Australia, to attend the Games. It will mean that from all parts of the country, the way in which the subsidy that we are providing has been organised, it will be possible for, I think, up to 40,000 school children from different parts of Australia to benefit from that support. And my colleague, Jackie Kelly, will be announcing immediately after this launch, will be announcing particular details of that scheme that I think will provide the wherewithal for a very, very significant involvement as spectators of the schools children of Australia. And, importantly, it will enable all parts of the Australian community to be associated with this event. Because it is important both in relation to the Paralympics and also the Olympic Games themselves that they be events that are owned by and felt a source of pride for all Australians. They may be held in Sydney but they are Games that belong to the entire Australian nation and it’s therefore very important to all sections of the Australian community. And I know that people from all around the country will be very, very heavily involved.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I want to, on behalf of the Federal Government, to encourage all Australians to very strongly support our Paralympic team and to support these Games. They will be, as I outlined, a major sporting event, second only to the Olympic Games in the year 2000. The size and the scope of them will exceed many major world sporting events that we’ve come to accept as a touchstone of size and scope in recent years. And I want all these weeks in advance, these 65 weeks in advance, on your behalf to wish the Australian team well, to congratulate them and remark upon their tremendous success to date. I want to thank Lois and all of those associated with the organising committee and the sponsors and to thank Michael Knight and SOCOG for their very strong support and their very strong involvement. Getting behind the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games is very much a united, bipartisan Australian effort. They are events that will showcase Australia to the rest of the world. They will not only showcase our athletes, the two events will also showcase the magnificent lifestyle of the Australian people.

And it’s very important as we approach these two events that any differences or difficulties that may have arisen in the past be put behind us, be dissolved and put aside in the interests of demonstrating to the world what a friendly, open and accommodatin g and, of course, highly competitive people Australians really are. And we can do that better than any group of people in the world. We can make these two events landmarks in the showcasing of our nation to the rest of the world and it’s in that spirit that the Federal Government approaches these Games. It’s in that spirit that all of us are very pleased to be associated. And so I encourage all Australians to join me at the Games and I now take pleasure in officially revealing the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Torch.


I forgot to say something. I don’t often forget to say something, I sometimes say too much. But I did forget to make it very clear in my speech that the Government has decided to extend the Torch Relay to all States and Territories. And originally there was some doubt about that but we’ve made it clear that it will go to all States and Territories. And Louise’s parents, for example, in Perth will be able to cheer it on. I apologise - you won’t mind the interruption.

[ ends ]



jy  1999-07-29  09:35