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Tuesday, 5 November 1996
Page: 5128


Senator McGAURAN(7.45 p.m.) —Not to underplay the previous speakers and the weight of their issues, I ask the Senate to indulge me as I wish to speak on an issue that really did stop the nation today and that was the running of the 1996 Melbourne Cup.

The winner, as the Senate is well aware—and it was won in good fashion—was Saintly. That made it a very special cup in the history of the Melbourne Cup because it was the trainer's, Bart Cummings, 10th win in the Melbourne Cup; a feat that really is now unlikely to be surpassed, particularly now that the Melbourne Cup has gone international.

Bart Cummings joins the true racing legends embedded in Australian history. He is even up there with the name of Phar Lap. For all we know, Bart Cummings may well be encased in a glass case too alongside Phar Lap. It certainly would be worthy of the two great champions of the turf.

Those who watched the cup could not help but notice how emotional Bart was after his win. It was not hard to understand why. He bred, trained and won the Melbourne Cup with the horse. But I venture to say that it was also due to the knowledge that only he would have and the fact that, after a roller-coaster ride, Bart was back.

During those very hard years it was the talent and determination of Bart Cummings that got him through. I take the liberty to say that because Bart Cummings was my old boss. So I got a very special kick out of seeing Bart Cummings train the Melbourne Cup winner today. I spent many a good time and many good years around the Flemington racecourse. Bart Cummings is a genius with a horse. I saw that too many times to think it was just luck or even a well-learnt craft. It was something better than that.

I learnt a great deal in my time with the Cummings' stable, and not just about horses. The racing game is made up of all levels of life and society from the toffs through to the battlers. So many of the experiences that I had then have held me in good stead in politics. I suggest to those in the chamber that many more politicians should take their sabbaticals in the stables because they will find that racing is much like politics. It has the intrigue of politics, the risks, the highs and lows, the need for confidentiality like politics, the determination needed in politics, a mateship and a care like politics calls upon us, and it also exposes you to just how tough life can be for so many.

Most of all, if you took your winter break in the stables instead of flying off to Europe, you would learn that to rise before 5 a.m. is in fact to rise at the best time of the day. I am sure Bart Cummings does not remember my last day before I left his services when he said to me that any time I wanted my job back just give him a call. Given the fortunes and vagaries of politics, I may yet take him up on that. Congratulations Bart Cummings.