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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31767


Mrs MAY (11:24 AM) —On the Gold Coast, the cries of `Where's my team?' will soon be replaced by applause and cheers for the Gold Coast Dolphins if the National Rugby League grants the 16th rugby league licence to the Gold Coast city. Make no mistake, I believe the NRL will grant our city the 16th licence in the not-too-distant future. I have been a director of the Gold Coast NRL bid team for 12 months now, and I was proud to attend the national press conference and the live-to-air taping of The Footy Show two weeks ago at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, where the name, the logo, the mascot and the colours of the Gold Coast team were announced and paraded before a sell-out Gold Coast crowd.

The Gold Coast Dolphins, who will wear teal, white and gold, will be represented by Davo the Dolphin. This press conference and live-to-air The Footy Show united the Gold Coast in a way I have never seen before. We sold every ticket for the corporate event prior to The Footy Show and all tickets for The Footy Show within an hour of them going on sale. That is support and commitment from a city that is hungry for its own football team. Some 1,500 people attended The Footy Show with Fatty Vautin and the team, and they all went home clutching a lift-out from the Gold Coast Bulletin which had the name, colours and logo of the team on it.

The Gold Coast has had a long association with rugby league, and the city just want to have a team playing in our colours for our city as soon as possible. In 1909 the first rugby league team outside Sydney was formed at Tweed Heads. While it was to be another 80 years before we were to get a national team—in the Gold Coast/Tweed Giants—rugby league was a sport that drew the Gold Coast together. From 1990 to 1998 the Gold Coast team, despite sound management, did not do too well on the field, leaving the NRL with little choice but to exclude a Gold Coast team from a revamped, smaller competition. It was a shame for those living on the coast, as well as those living in the Hunter and in Adelaide, but after years of strife it was the only way rugby league could get kick-started again. Now that uncertainty and the problems are over and it is time for the Gold Coast to again take its rightful place in the national competition.

The Dolphins are able to demonstrate strong community support for their submission. They have strong business support, including potential major sponsors and significant support from the rugby league community nationally. In fact a recent poll showed that the vast majority of rugby league players surveyed supported a Gold Coast team. I think they all want to come and live on the Gold Coast! It is very clear that a Gold Coast team has more than enough support to thrive in the world of our National Rugby League competition.

Dolphins chairman Paul Broughton said, `We've proven that our team is ready, willing and able and we can get fans to the game.' We even have a coach. John Cartwright, a former Kangaroo and State of Origin player who in recent years has been assistant coach of the Roosters and of the New South Wales State of Origin team, has accepted the role of coach of the Dolphins. This is one of the most important appointments the team can make—it is a real coup for the Dolphins. John has said that he is ready for the challenge of coaching an NRL team. It ensures that with John at the helm our team will hit the ground running if we get the green light to play in 2006.

The press conference sparked interest from all corners of Australia as the Gold Coast Dolphins web site came online. The web site, www.goldcoastdolphins.com, was one of the most accessed web sites that week. Of course, no team could be launched without a theme song—and what a theme song: I'm a Believer. And yes, we are believers. We believe in our city and we believe in our bid. The song will become synonymous with our Gold Coast Dolphins. The thousands of Gold Coasters who packed into Carrara Stadium during the trial matches are believers and the thousands who jumped online to the Dolphins web site are believers. Now all that remains is for the National Rugby League to allow the passionate supporters of a team that does not even exist yet to have an outlet for that passion and give the Gold Coast our own rugby league team. We have the means and we have the passion; now all we need is the team.

I warn the member for Sydney and her Roosters, I warn the member for Newcastle and her Knights, and I warn the member for Cook and his Sharks that the Dolphins are coming and they are going to make a big splash on the field in 2006. It is time for the Gold Coast Dolphins to take to the field.