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Monday, 10 September 2012
Page: 6398

Paralympic Games


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:39): My question is to the Minister for Sport, Senator Lundy. With the London Paralympic Games now officially ended, can the minister update the Senate on Australia's performance at the games and our wonderful athletes' achievements?


Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (14:39): I thank Senator Thistlethwaite for his question. I know he is a big supporter of the Paralympics and has been keenly following it from home. Senate colleagues, as you would be aware, this morning Australian time the London 2012 Paralympics came to an end with their closing ceremony. The performances of our team are applauded and acknowledged. As stated by the President of the Australian Paralympic Committee, their results exceeded their expectations. In fact, the goal of the APC was to maintain a position as high as possible within the top 10 nations competing and, since the year 2000 games in Sydney, many of those countries have significantly increased their investment in paralympic sports, which has ensured a high level of competition across a larger number of countries. This has made our achievements in London all the more special.

All up, Australia won medals in nine of the 13 sports that we contested in London, including our first-ever medal in hand cycling and our first gold medal in equestrian since the year 2000. We had our first goalball team competing since Sydney and our swimmers had their best performance in the pool since 1984. We are all extremely proud of the performances of our athletes in London and the way in which they have represented Australia during, before and after competition. I would like to place on the record our collective gratitude to those athletes not only for the inspiration they provide to other people who have been living with a disability or have incurred a disability through a tragic event in their lives, but for the inspiration they provide which has permeated the whole of Australia and bought a great deal of joy and enthusiasm for the Paralympic Games.


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:41): Mr President, I have a supplementary question. While in London, did the minister have the opportunity to meet those who played a role in supporting our athletes behind the scenes?


Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (14:42): I thank Senator Thistlethwaite for his question. The success of our athletes on the tracks, fields and courts is the result of years and years of hard work by the athletes, who we know work incredibly hard, but there is a vast support network sitting behind the athletes, as there is in every sport. I was fortunate while in London to meet many members of athletes' families, many of the team officials and the extensive group of volunteers who provided our athletes with the support they need to perform at their very best. This expertise and the innovation that occurs have made the difference to our athletes and played a big role in many of them achieving their personal bests, in records being broken and in gold, silver and bronze medals being won. From the staging camp at Cardiff right through to the sports science and medicine, our innovation culture in high performance— (Time expired)


Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:43): Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. Can the minister update the Senate on the innovative new measures that the Australian Paralympic Committee used to keep Australians informed during the games?


Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (14:43): Thanks to the excellent broadcasting efforts by ABC TV, interest in the Paralympic Games reached new heights. The website of the Australian Paralympic Committee received a record increase in traffic, with over a million views during the games. Part of the team of volunteers led by Tony Naar from the APC worked for hundreds of hours pulling together information on the history of the paralympic movement in Australia, the Paralympians themselves and the classification system. This was done using detailed pages through Wikipedia—essentially, a crowd-sourcing exercise tapping into the wealth of knowledge that exists within and around the sporting and Paralympian community in Australia. Since the games began, these pages have been viewed more than 230,000 times. For everyone with a keen interest in the Paralympics— (Time expired)