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Monday, 22 September 1986
Page: 1116

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Mr GORMAN —Can the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism advise the House of the results that Australia achieved at the International Disabled Games, the short name of which is FESPIC» , which were recently held in Java?


Mr JOHN BROWN —The honourable member for Greenway, in very similar terms to the honourable member for Wide Bay, has always exhibited a very deep interest in the participation of the disabled in sport in Australia. At the recent «FESPIC» Games, where Australia was represented by amputee, wheelchair and blind athletes, I am happy to tell the House that Australia won 104 gold medals, 44 silver medals and 28 bronze medals, which made us the top nation in the world in disabled sport, as we have been at every recent disabled games from the Disabled Olympics down. I think every member of the House, including the Leader of the Opposition, should be very proud of the achievements of Australia's disabled athletes. But strangely enough, I came back on the early plane from Adelaide to farewell our athletes to this «FESPIC Games on behalf of the Government, and thereby on behalf of the Australian public, and while sitting in the airport waiting to meet the athletes I noticed a little quote in the Sydney Morning Herald, which said: `Howard questions need for sports funding'. The article went on to say that others might see this as a heresy but that he did not.

Therefore, I presume that we are entitled to look back at the record of this particular group of people who were in government for 30-odd of the last 37 years. If we do that, we realise how little they did for sport. I inform the House that this Government will contribute $1m to disabled sport this year-to the elite disabled athletes right down to those people who have been stuck away on verandahs for years and who have had no place in sport in Australia. The record of honourable members opposite for funding disabled sport was just nothing, nil. When they talk about reducing funds for sport they might note that funds for sport contributed by this Government are 0.006 per cent of Budget outlays, which is just 600 per cent more than they ever gave for sport. I presume that we can look at their record and think that that is what we will go back to. Therefore, I wonder whether we should believe that the Surf Life Saving Association, which this year is to get $1m from this Government to continue its work, should go back to the $100,000 they used to give it, or that the Royal Life Saving Society, which is charged with teaching Australian kids how to swim, can look forward to going back to $100,000 instead of the $350,000 it will get this year. The same thing can be repeated in respect of a dozen other organisations. I suppose our Olympic athletes will go back to running chook raffles, like they used to do during the term of office of the previous Government, so that they can attend Olympic games, whereas under this Government they received $1.4m. I know that honourable members opposite believe that is too much. It happens to be 10c per head of population every four years-2 1/2c a year-but honourable members opposite think it is too much.

If honourable members opposite want to start winding the clock back on sports funding, they should do so at their own peril because in the next 18 months I will be out telling all of those sporting organisations that we fund-100 organisations representing six million Australians-that, if by some unfortunate set of events those opposite happen to be in government again, they can look forward to what they got previously, which was nothing, and that they can look forward to the funding that existed before Mr Hawke became the Prime Minister. The previous Government did not support sport and Australia then had the highest level of heart disease in the world because Australians were not participating in sport. Australians are now participating. I am very happy to tell the House that participation in sport in the last three years has been 200 per cent higher at the grass roots level than it ever was under the previous Government. If honourable members opposite want to carry on with some proposition such as `Howard questions need for sport funding', they can carry on. There is enormous support for us in the sporting community of Australia, and I will spend the next 18 months telling it that poor old Rambo over there, who purports to be the shadow Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism-if we can believe the ramblings of John Stone, the alter ego of the Leader of the Opposition, that my Department of Sport, Recreation and Tourism is laughable-will not have a department at all if he ever gets into government. Under this Government, funding for sport will continue at its current high level, particularly for the disabled athletes who performed so brilliantly in Java.