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Thursday, 3 July 1941

Senator DARCEY (Tasmania) . - I support the bill because I think that physical fitness should be the first concern of every nation. I have been associated with athletics for more than 50 years, and, in fact, I am a life member of the Tasmanian Amateur Athletic Association. I admire a good physique both in a man and in a woman. I agree with Senator Cameron that physical fitness should.start in the cradle. When Cecil Rhodes made his great bequest to the universities of the Empire, he stipulated that Rhodes scholars should be physically fit, because he believed that sometimes a great intellect was wasted through lack of physical fitness. I notice that a great deal of the money to be voted will go to the various universities. I was once a timekeeper in connexion with university sports, and 1 noticed on one occasion that more undergraduates were sitting down smoking cigarettes than were participating in the sports that were in progress. Ten or a dozen competitors seemed to provide the whole of the afternoon's entertainment. The largest entries were received for the egg-and-spoon race. The students seemed more interested in carrying an egg on a spoon for 50 yards without dropping it than running a quarter of a mile. 1 remarked to the chancellor on that occasion that I would favour the endowment of a chair of athletics, and compel all students to take a course in' that subject. I should like to know how the money proposed to he made available to universities is to be expended, and whether the universities will train men as physical instructors. The expenditure should be £200,000 a year rather than £20,000 a year. Social security is a prerequisite to an athletic race, and there can be no economic security without a change of the monetary system. The economic conditions of the working classes have brought ' about adverse medical reports regarding the physical condition of many of the young people of to-day. I am aware that school teachers in Hobart work hard to improve the physical condition of the pupils, and I believe that they are obtaining good results1, but I am doubtful whether the Government proposes to use the money to be made available by this measure to the best advantage. The Police Club in North Sydney is doing exceedingly useful work, and, in my opinion, the £20,000 to be voted would be better expended in endowing existing athletic clubs so that they might employ qualified instructors. The universities are attended chiefly by the children of the well-to-do classes.

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