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Friday, 31 May 1985
Page: 2941

Senator JACK EVANS(12.02) —I think it is a red letter day for sport on both sides of this chamber as the Australian Sports Commission Bill passes through its stages. I would like to pay tribute to former Minister Ellicott who had the courage, initiative and drive to get a new direction for sport in this country. That direction incorporated the creation of the Australian Institute of Sport which gave incentive and motivation to sports people around Australia to come together, to work together and to recognise that we were a long way behind in the international sporting sphere. The Institute allowed these people to work with each other, with the scientists, coaches, educators and all the people who were able and willing-who have always been willing-to assist sports people in this country to improve their performance. In particular, the creation of the Institute helped those at the top of their sport, an area in which we have tended to fade away after the 1956 Olympics in this country.

The new directions have been carried through at both national and State levels. I think it is great to see bodies such as the Western Australian Institute of Sport created and developing. Hopefully it will be the model for other State institutes of sport in this country. However, we have to allow the structure, the organisation, the administration of sport and government's awareness of what is going on in sport to grow with those things. I believe this Bill will achieve that. It was disappointing to discover when listening to Senator Collard from the National Party of Australia how little understanding that Party has of how sport functions in Australia. We have to recognise that in sport, not only on the playing field but also in the administration of sport, those competitive instincts come out. We have very aggressive people concerned with the administration of sport. This is understandable. Aggression and drive are what makes them very successful sports people. Therefore, we will not have a lovely homogeneous group of people we can put together and say that that is the model representative of sport.

What we need is the advice of a broad spectrum of people who can speak on behalf of sport. I think the group of people selected by the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) as commissioners on the Australian Sports Commission are an admirable group representative of sport at all levels and most facets of sport in this country. What they are going to have to do is to give the Government consistent advice. They will have to find consensus amongst themselves while recognising that the input they will be getting will be conflicting. There will always be conflicting advice on sport. There will always be conflicts, for example, between Commonwealth representatives and State representatives-those people who want more powers for the States and those who want more powers for the Commonwealth. There will always be conflict between larger States-those who get too much of the cake-and the smaller States-those who are left in an underprivileged position so far as facilities for their sporting contestants are concerned, simply because their populations cannot support better facilities. Whether we have conflict among sporting groups themselves or between the two major groups I perceive in sport, that is, the professional entertainment sports groups on the one hand and, on the other hand the participative or amateur sports groups, they have vastly different needs. There must be an input and awareness of those contrasting needs provided to this Government through its Minister. As I see it, that is the point of having the Australian Sports Commission appointed.

In this country we have to look to a growing, developing and, one would hope, improving, future for sport and sports people. We have to set this at the international level because we must endeavour at all times to set the example, for those who come into sport, of the peaks of performance possible for those sports people who have the joy of representing our nation overseas or representing the nation within Australia.

We also have to look to the future in terms of the needs of recreational sport. Recreational sport is growing. It is a vital area that will require government input and government decisions. It is not a matter of socialising sport. It is a matter of providing some structure and support for the millions of people who will want to get into sport, in the next few years in particular. It is wonderful to see that area of sport growing. It produces a healthy nation and gives us a degree of pride in our nation. We have to get more participants in sports. Sad though it might be to a government trying to prune the Budget, one of the ways to get more participants is to provide better and more appropriate facilities. That is where the Commission will come in. It will consider appropriate facilities appropriately located. It will look after appropriate sporting groups. I stress that when we say we are seeking more participants we do not want just macho male participants, although we certainly want them, who are represented overseas as the image of Australian sports people. We have another very highly regarded group of sports people who cannot be seen as macho males. I am referring to our disabled sports people who have given us a reputation in a certain sector of sport which this country needs to recognise and give full praise to. We need to recognise not just those disabled sports people but also those who support them.

I stress that it is not just disabled people who need to get into sport and get the benefits of sport. We want more juniors in sport. We want to provide the facilities and opportunities for juniors to get into sport, particularly non-competitive sport, in primary schools. I hope that is one of the things that the Commission takes on board very early so that there is at least one sport open to every child in this country. Certainly there is a great enough variety of sports to allow every child to get into a sport that he or she will enjoy participating in. We want also to find a solution to the problem of how to keep our teenagers in sport when other things pull them away just when they are developing and at a time when sport will benefit them and be benefited itself by their participation.

As Senator Crowley indicated a few moments ago, we need to give women a fair go in sport. They have not had a fair go up until now. Let us hope that the 'Women, Sport and the Media' report will ensure that women get the recognition and support to enable them to participate and enjoy sport, not just as girls or teenagers, but as they have their children and grow older. Talking about growing older, one of the things I have witnessed recently-I hope it develops immensely across Australia-is the return to sport and the staying in sport of the so-called veterans. These are the older people who get great benefits not just from participating in the sport itself but also from its social aspects which older people, particularly lonely older people, can get from continued participation in sport or from taking up new sports which are available to them. I commend the Bill. On behalf of the Australian Democrats I indicate that it has our wholehearted support.