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Tuesday, 8 November 1983
Page: 2431

Mr FISHER(10.30) —For the last few months, and especially since the Budget, we have heard nothing but praise for this great sporting Government and this great sporting Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), the man hailed as the darling of the Newport jet set, the Cazaly of the football world and the Brock of Bathurst. We have heard how this Government has been able to live up to its election promises made to sportsmen and women of this country, but we are now finding out that all is not as it seems. I quote the promise from the Australian Labor Party sport and recreation policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister:

We propose in our first Budget to double the direct support provided to the sporting organisations.

If that was not sufficiently succinct, the Government promised in its sports policy:

An increased level of funding in the general sports grants area to enable the national sporting associations to adequately administer their sport . . . sufficient funds are made available to enable more highly talented Australian athletes to gain international experience.

Despite this Government's pathetic record in the keeping of most election promises, a great number of sports administrators fervently believed that this Government would honour its pledge to them and that they would get increases of between 50 and 75 per cent as promised to them for an Olympic year. With great gusto, the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) announced on 16 October the sports development program for 1983-84. In doing so he claimed -he is technically correct-that the program had received a record 75 per cent lift to meet the Government's promises to increase sports funding. One would therefore assume that sports listed under that program would receive increases in the vicinity of 75 per cent. How wrong can one be? I do not have time to go through the full list of disadvantaged sports. Indeed, I have not yet compiled a full list; but I would like to give just one example of how phoney and how hollow this Government is in its promises even to some of our sports people.

Swimming has been regarded as one of Australia's leading sports. It has always been a big medal winner for this country in Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Over the years we have produced some of the world's best swimmers. Yet how is swimming treated by this Government? I believe it has pulled the plug on swimming. This year the sports grant for swimming has been increased not by 75 per cent, not by 7 per cent, but by a lousy 4 1/2 per cent.

Mr Lloyd —How much?

Mr FISHER —By 4 1/2 per cent for an Olympic year. An extra $5,000 is supposed to cover the extra costs of getting swimming teams to training facilities and competitions overseas, and the extra associated costs of administration and coaching. The extra funds allocated for swimming do not even keep up with inflation. How are our swimming administrators to handle all the extra load of training a national team for Olympic competition with $5,000 extra? The treatment of swimming points up some of the empty promises that this Government peddles. We have a Prime Minister who jumps on any winning sports dais he can, claiming his Government is the friend of sportsmen, while treating one of Australia's traditional sports in this manner.

Already many sections of the sporting community are realising how false this Government's promises are. It will not take long before Australia realises just what this Government's promises are worth. It has treated our pensioners with scorn and rural school children with callous disregard and has seriously disadvantaged important sections of our sporting community. I appreciate the fact that the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism has come into the chamber tonight. I hope that he will take action to ensure that this shortage of adequate funding will not mean the pruning back of our Olympic swimming team or cancelling some of our planned overseas training tours prior to the Olympic Games. I hope that the Minister will ensure that this crisis situation in Australia's swimming is fixed, and fixed very quickly.