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Tuesday, 29 November 1983
Page: 2955

Mr YOUNG —I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. I do not wish to reflect upon the sports men and women who have been named in recent stories as having received moneys from the former Government for taking part in the boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games, but is the Acting Prime Minister able to give the Parliament any more information on this matter? If he is not able to give further information to the Parliament today, will he assure the House that he will inquire into this matter and give the Parliament a full statement as to how this took place?

Mr COHEN —The Government is aware that payments were made to sporting bodies and individuals which withdrew from participation in the Moscow Olympics. Such payments were allowed for in the Budget of 1980-81, although both the then Treasurer, and the present Leader of the Opposition have recently commented in the media that they cannot recall the payments. People in politics often get bad memories when it suits them. Yesterday the honourable member for Grayndler, as Chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, however, highlighted some strangeness in relation to the payments made to various athletes. For the information of honourable members I will list the payments. The equestrian organisation received $125,000; yachting, $52,840; men' s hockey, $90,374; boxing, $13,784; women's hockey, $45,740; volley-ball, $120, 000; shooting, $41,000. Then $6,000 was paid to John Higham, Raelene Boyle, Mark Morgan, Tracey Wickham, Terrence Reilly and Alexander Watson. Ladies and gentlemen-Mr Speaker--

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr COHEN —It is ladies and gentlemen now, if honourable members opposite had not noticed. There are six of them in this House, the most talented people in the Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I invite the Minister to address the Chair.

Mr COHEN —Mr Speaker, you are also talented. The facts speak for themselves. They are an obvious indictment of the discredited Fraser Government, which took every opportunity to prostitute its principles for political gain. It is unfortunate that sport, like so many other areas in our society, has had to suffer such undignified behaviour on the part of the previous Government. As some sporting commentators have noted, the Fraser Government may have placed in jeopardy the amateur status of these athletes by paying money to individual sportsmen instead of paying money through their respective sporting organisations.