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Wednesday, 29 September 1993
Page: 1389

Senator LEES —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories and comes in the wake of Sydney's successful bid to host the year 2000 Olympics. As Minister Kelly acknowledged yesterday in the House of Representatives, today's 10- to 17-year-olds—our school children—will make up the bulk of the Olympic team for the year 2000. Will the federal government make a commitment to implement the 40 recommendations of the Senate inquiry into physical and sport education? This shows how the federal government can turn around the disastrous state of decline of physical education in schools across Australia and so not only help us to find the athletes for the year 2000 but also prevent a further decline in the health and well being of Australians.

Senator SCHACHT —The government wants to reiterate its congratulations to all concerned with the successful Sydney bid. That has been stated by the Prime Minister and by all members of the government, and I think it is certainly a bipartisan or tripartisan position of all of us.

  We anticipate that, on present indications and at the present rate of expenditure, by the time of the Olympic games in the year 2000, we will have spent between now and then around $200 million on Olympic sports in Australia. The minister anticipates that because we have the Olympic games, there will be a much wider participation of Australians in sports in those Olympic games.

  I think most of us would be aware that, because we are hosting the Olympic games, we are automatically eligible to enter a team in all the team sports and do not have to go through the prequalifying rounds. This will mean that Australians will be able to see many more of their citizens participating in the Olympic games in every sport for the first time. In many sports which some people in Australia might call minor we will have an Australian team participating. As a result, the minister anticipates that we can expect increased funding to take account of that excellent outcome of hosting the Olympic games in Australia.

  We also recognise that in order to surpass our excellent effort on the last occasion that Australia hosted the Olympic games, 1956, when we won 13 gold medals, we have to get more people participating in sport. That will have to be a joint Australia-wide program between the federal government and the states. The minister has already indicated her keenness to have discussion with the states about preparing appropriate programs to encourage an increased participation of Australians, particularly in many of those sports at the Olympic games in which we will now be eligible to have teams.

  As far as the recommendations of the Senate committee are concerned, I will have to take that part of the question on notice and come back to the honourable senator with a direct response. But I can assure her that the government is very enthusiastic about ensuring that as many Australians as possible are able to participate in the preparations for the Olympic games, and also that we use this to make Australia a fitter society than it is at the moment.