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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 154

Mr JOHNSON (10:55 PM) —Ryan residents are great lovers of sport, be it cricket down the park with friends and family, netball on the weekend for the girls or a game of touch football for both the guys and the girls, for that matter. Australians cherish the great outdoors and the beautiful environment we have in this country. Sport indeed has a special place in Australian society and culture. Sport is a force for good in our local communities. It is a social good bringing together families and strangers alike.

Of course sport today is also big business, worth billions of dollars and employing tens of thousands of people directly and indirectly. Sport creates millionaires and celebrities in the blink of an eye. But more important to me and to the people of Ryan, who I have the great pleasure of representing in this parliament, is the place of sport in the heart and soul of the Ryan community. From Brookfield to The Gap, sporting clubs and teams thrive and reflect the very best of our young people. From Anstead to Taringa, I am pleased to continue my support for all local Ryan schools and sporting teams that exist.

Whilst I am on the subject of sport generally, I believe that sport is something that can have a very positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our children. Take, for instance, the problem of obesity. We all know that obesity is a major health problem in today’s society. We all know that, if we do not address the problem, it will become a crisis greater than it is today. The price that Australian society and future taxpayers will have to pay to bring it under control will be something truly beyond our imagination. Sport might well be one pathway for us to invest in the prevention and reduction of obesity in all Australians, in particular in children. This may be a way for us to reduce it, in particular in the children that I have particular concern for in my electorate of Ryan. Therefore, I would certainly encourage the federal government to play a greater role in appreciating the capacity for local sport in our communities and our electorates to have an effective impact on both preventing and reducing obesity, as well as the capacity to be a force for social good in our communities, as I have alluded to.

I want to conclude my remarks this evening by taking the opportunity in the parliament to wish the Australian Socceroos all the best in their match against Uruguay on 12 November before returning to Sydney for the return game on 16 November. I want to thank the handful of Ryan residents who have taken the time to call me to ask me to make a particular point of wishing the Socceroos well in their travels to Uruguay. Australian soccer has certainly had its fair share of trouble in recent times, but I am confident it now has a big future in this country following the reforms that have been implemented. Who knows? One day Australia might host a future soccer World Cup—maybe in the year 2018, when I think it is next due in the Asia-Pacific region—to add to the two great Olympic Games this country has hosted and our two Rugby World Cups, in 1987 and only recently in 2003.

While I have a couple of minutes left in my presentation this evening, I might take the opportunity to comment very briefly on a Sunday Mail article of 6 November 2005. The article referred to the so-called bombshell news that the ARU was likely to vote in support of the Japan Rugby Football Union’s bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. If that is a bombshell story then I certainly want to take the opportunity in the Australian parliament to express my full support for the prospect that Japan might successfully bid for the right to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I do not know why it would be seen to be a bombshell, but I certainly know that the residents of Ryan and many constituents in the Ryan electorate are great lovers of rugby. I am sure they would want to see the game they love spread and prosper to all corners of the world, including within the Asia-Pacific region and in this case Japan.

I do hope very much that the fact that the ARU has a relationship with South Africa and New Zealand does not prohibit or discourage the two ARU delegates from supporting Japan’s bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. So in the parliament tonight I wish to place on record formally my support for Japan to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Japan absolutely deserves to host this fabulous tournament. Who could forget the way they played in Australia during the last World Cup? Make no mistake about it: just as sport and rugby are loved in this country and in the Ryan electorate, sport and rugby are loved in Japan. I am sure that all lovers of sport in this country would wish them well. (Time expired)