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Monday, 7 July 2014
Page: 4312


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaGovernment Whip in the Senate) (22:19): Before continuing, I want to touch quickly on the comments of Senator Whish-Wilson. He and others often talk about the profits that Hydro Tasmania generates as a result of the carbon tax, as if it is just some magic amount of money that the carbon tax raises. The reality is that Hydro makes increased profits from the carbon tax because the carbon tax increases the market price, which means that the customers of Hydro Tasmania have to pay higher rates for the electricity that Hydro generates, whilst Hydro does not actually pay the carbon tax. It affects the market price, which then gives a windfall to Hydro. So it does not come from nowhere. It comes from the customers. People pay it. Ultimately, it is the customers who pay it, and it then goes to Hydro to generate their profits. I think it is important to remember that.

On 19 May this year, Australia lost a truly remarkable and transformational figure in Sir Jack Brabham. Sir Jack is best remembered for the indelible mark he left on Australian motorsports, where he climbed to the pinnacle of Formula One as both a driver and a constructor. Although Sir Jack's passing was a time of grief and sadness, for Australian motorsport enthusiasts it has been a time of reflection on a career that will be forever remembered.

Australia has always punched above its weight in international sporting circles, with legends such as Sir Jack Brabham forming an important part of our national identity in the post-World War II era. Sport heralded in important social changes in the 1950s through its commercialisation, globalisation and professionalism. Our beloved champion athletes embodied the values of mateship, having a go and egalitarianism.

Sir Jack was a relatively late starter to Formula One racing, entering his first race at the age of 30 and winning his first Drivers World Championship at the age of 34. He successfully defended his championship the very next year, and reclaimed the title five years later, in 1966, at the age of 40. His success was credited to his personal qualities, including hard work, perseverance, flair and courage—traits that all Australians aspire to.

Sir Jack was also a brilliant engineer who innately understood the capabilities of his car, enabling him to consistently outperform quicker opponents, delivering 14 Grand Prix victories and 31 podiums. His brilliance in the garage and at the design table came to the fore when he was crowned as World Constructors Champion for his Brabham-Repco BT19, with an engine developed by Australian company Repco, in 1966. He repeated this feat the following year.

Over and above Sir Jack's incredible achievements in Formula One, he also had the vision to bring motorsports from the pursuit of a select few to a mass audience, with his legacy still enduring today. As early as 1952, Sir Jack understood the commercial possibilities of motorsports by, controversially, painting advertising logos on his cars. Sir Jack's foresight in commercialisation formed a happy marriage with the rapidly expanding era of television. What was once translated only through radio and newspapers was now being beamed directly into lounge rooms throughout the country and across the world. Sir Jack was rapidly becoming a legend, and one who would stand the test of time.

Wherever Sir Jack went, crowds flocked to see him, and my home state of Tasmania was no exception. In 1959 and 1965, the Australian Grand Prix was held in the picturesque town of Longford in northern Tasmania on a street circuit that featured two wooden bridge crossings of the South Esk River and a hair-raising turn beneath a railway bridge known as Viaduct Corner before appropriately passing the Longford Hotel. Whilst Sir Jack did not compete in 1959, Tasmanians affectionately remember the thrill of his 1965 performance finishing second to Bruce McLaren, another legend of the sport.

In Tasmania, Sir Jack was synonymous with Tasmanian Motorsport Hall of Fame member John Youl. John Youl rose to prominence in the 1950s and competed in top local, interstate and international circuit racing events, firstly in sedans and then in open-wheelers. His first foray into national prominence was in 1957, when he set a new sedan lap record at Phillip Island. During that era he also competed at the famed Longford International Raceway, winning numerous sedan events. As a great admirer of Sir Jack, it was only fitting that in 1962 John Youl purchased an ex-Brabham Formula One-winning car from Sir Jack. It was a low-line Cooper Climax T55, a car Sir Jack had used in Formula One for two years and also in the 1962 Tasman Series.

John Youl's crowning achievement was defeating both Sir Jack and remarkable Scottish driver Jackie Stewart in the Tasman Series—run in Australia and New Zealand in the European off-season—that commenced in 1964. Earlier, in 1959, John Youl and his late father leased a section of their property at Symmons Plains to the Light Car Club of Tasmania. The area is now the Symmons Plains International Raceway, located about 30 kilometres south of Launceston. I am not sure that this is true, and I could not confirm it, but I believe that Sir Jack Brabham actually had a hand in designing the Symmons Plains race track. Since the closure of the Longford circuit in the 1960s it has been Tasmania's premier motor-racing facility. In John Youl's later years he campaigned on road safety and driver education. His passing in 2009 at age 77 was a sad loss to Tasmania and, indeed, to Australia.

Sir Jack was Australia's pioneer in Formula One racing, a sport which also produced Alan Jones, a legend in his own right. Alan Jones famously won the 1980 Formula One World Drivers' Championship, finished his career with 12 wins and 24 podiums, and continues to contribute to the sport through his expert commentary. It was entirely fitting that both Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones were made Members of the British Empire and immortalised by being inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame.

In more recent times, Mark Webber represented Australia tremendously on Formula One's world stage. His special talent was recognised around the world when he confounded experts by famously piloting a Minardi into the points in his very first race, the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, after qualifying in lowly 18th place. Australian motorsports fans share the pain of his desperately unlucky World Drivers' Championship bid in 2010, where he was pipped in the very last race of the season by team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Tasmanians also have a fond place in their hearts for Mark Webber after he organised and competed in a 10-day trek across the state to raise funds for children's cancer research charities in 2003.

Following in the legendary footsteps of Sir Jack Brabham, Alan Jones and, more recently, Mark Webber, we now have a budding Formula One champion in Daniel Ricciardo. After serving an apprenticeship over almost four years, he won the Canadian Grand Prix on 8 June this year, his first victory at the highest level. Australian motorsport fans have fresh hope of a return to the glory days of Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones.

Our sporting stars contribute enormously to this nation. Youngsters all over the country aspire to be like their heroes, a fact that contributes to more than 60 per cent of Australian school-age children participating in an organised sport outside of school hours, according to the ABS in 2012. This culture of participation has enormous benefits for the health and wellbeing of our young people. In the case of Sir Jack Brabham, he was the father of a burgeoning motorsports industry, which now features some of the most watched sports in Australia, including V8 Supercars, especially at the Bathurst 1000, and other classes including Formula Three, Formula Ford and Superbikes.

No speech on Australian motorsports would be complete without mentioning the mercurial Peter Brock, legend of the Australian touring car scene and nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner, earning him the title King of the Mountain. Peter Brock was a key reason for the success of the V8 Supercar Tour, which includes an annual event at Symmons Plains in Tasmania. Peter Brock is no longer with us; however, his eminence in Australian motorsports is carved in stone.

Tasmania also enjoys Australia's biggest and best event on the Targa class open road rally racing circuit, Targa Tasmania. The event has been running for each of the past 22 years and touches every corner of the state as it traverses 2,000 kilometres and 40 competitive stages. In addition to the quality of the sport it provides to Tasmanian motorsport fans, it delivers an enormous tourism boost and wonderful profiling of Australia's best holiday destinations.

It is only appropriate that the Senate recognises not only the remarkable pioneering contribution that Sir Jack Brabham has made to his chosen field, paving the way for future champions in Alan Jones, Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo, but also the lift that he has provided to the national psyche through the sheer enjoyment of his exploits by generations of motorsport-loving Australians. Sir Jack Brabham is a legend who will never be forgotten.