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Sport and recreation policy launch



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R.J. HAWKE, M.P. ALP SPORTS POLICY LAUNCH MONDAY 28 FEBRUARY 1983

At the outset I want to make one thing very clear.

In inviting you as representatives of the sporting organisatio: which'cater for six million Australian men and women, boys and girls, to hear an outline of the Labor Government's approach, it is not our wish or intention to involve you in the election campaign, now

nearing its close. Others have tried that, in a none-too-subtle way -and I think it has backfired. But you are entitled to know the plans of a Labor Government to help you and your organisations to make an even more valuable contribution, to something which is so fundamental to the Australian way of life, and something which is quite basic to the health and happiness, the leisure and pleasure, of the Australian

people. .I should say immediately we are all indebted to John Brown, our Spokesman on Sport, Recreation and Tourism, for the work that he has done since he became Member for Parramatta, in developing a comprehensive, relevant and realistic program in this vital field.

And for once, we can use the word "vital" in its proper meaning - literally, a matter of life. In fact, John has produced a document so weighty - again, speaking literally - that just lifting it a few times involves some sort of athletic prowess.

Labor's program, he wasn't able to build on the pioneering And we make no apologies at And here I would like to pay

Australia's first Minister for after the fifth of March, that

But of course, in developing starting from scratch. He has been record of the last Labor Government. all for our record in that respect. a tribute to the late Frank Stewart, Sport, Recreation and Tourism. And Ministry will be re-established.

In reminding you that the initiative for the National Institute of Sport came from Frank Stewart and the last Labor Governme: I don't intend in any way to detract from the work of those like Mr Ellicott who continued that initiative.

We believe that the work of the Institute must be continued and expanded so that the long and laborious process of training world-class athletes can go ahead against the background of firm, financial and moral support, from the Australian Labor Government, and

through the national Government, the Australian people.

Beyond continuing and expanded support for the Institute, we will ensure that sufficient funds are made available to enable more highly talented Australian athletes to gain international experience.

But the training of the elite of the sporting world is only part of the task - and from the national point of view, and from the point of view of a nation dedicated to democracy and equality -not the most important part of the task. We will have failed as a nation if by the end of the century - and that is only seventeen years

away - all we have produced is a nation of spectators applauding from the sidelines the deeds and prowess of our top sportsmen and women - at home and abroad.

Our aim must be even greater involvement and participation. In this regard, we particularly emphasise the importance of the children.

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Accordingly, we recognise the special importance of the schoc In co-operation with the State and local governments, we want to ensi that sports education in the schools throughout Australia is greatly improved by the provision of extra skilled staff and facilities.

There will be particular emphasis on the teaching of swimming and water safety skills. We make it a goal that schoolchildren throughout Australia should enjoy at least the standards and access to sporting facilities and trained staff already enjoyed by schoolchildren in Canberra.

We will ask the State and local government authorities to do their utmost to place better sporting and recreation facilities at the disposal of the schools. We will make special provision for physical education staff at primary and secondary schools and for the development of specialised teachers.

But the sport and recreation program for Australia must depend. in the final analysis on the sporting organisations throughout our country, which you represent.

There are nearly 120 sporting organisations in Australia and they represent some six million Australians who actively participate in one or more sporting activities.

The present level of financial support can hardly be regarded as more than a gesture - and not a very polite gesture at that.

Currently, the support to sporting organisations represents about twenty cents a head of population - derisory in comparison with countries like Britain, Canada or West Germany.

If you consider that the Federal Government collects some $90 million in sales tax on sporting goods alone, there is clearly a need for a fairer distribution of the sporting dollar.

We propose in our first Budget to double the direct support provided to the sporting organisations.

As a specific example, the assistance to surf life-saving organisations will be increased from $400,000 to $800,000.

Our program includes: the maintenance of funds available to ti States on a dollar for dollar basis to provide competitive facilities of recognised international standard; provision of contract grants to local government for improved sporting and recreation facilities; funding on a dollar for dollar basis to local and State Governments to enable the building of family leisure centres.

We also intend to make provision for the tax averaging for sportsmen and women with short careers in a high body contact sport. Tax averaging already exists over a wide range of business and farming and cultural activities. We want to help those people who can earn high incomes over a period of three or four years in sports like

football, who, after their peak, are left with little more than declining earning power and fading reputations.

We propose the establishment of a National Sports Commission tc oversee the provision of federal assistance to sport at every level.

And finally, we shall ensure proper financial support for the proposed Biennial Australian Games.

In round terms, we envisage a sports funding increase to $50 million, which is the amount allocated. under the costing of the program I set out in my policy speech at the beginning of this campaign But of course, we can't look at the sporting, recreation and leisure needs of our nation simply in terms of dollars and cents.

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As I have said, it is fundamental to the Australian way of life. It is basic to the question of the health and happiness of our people.

The direct cost of a comprehensive sport and recreation program fades into insignificance compared with the social and human cost of preventable disease and ill health. For instance, we have the second highest incidence of cardiac disease in the Western world.

And there is a further question of social costs.

And this is very relevant in any consideration of our present economic difficulties. In a speech in Melbourne yesterday, I drew attention to the appalling implications in terms of social alliances, of the fact that 29 percent - nearly 1 in 3 - of our 15 to 19 year olds in the workforce cannot find work.

But the question of the proper use of leisure and recreation is one that transcends our immediate economic difficulties. It is one of the major questions facing all modern societies in this age of rapid technological change. The use of leisure is an absolutely

fundamental part of the adaptation to that change. It is a question which we as a nation continue to ignore at our peril. And it is a question - the whole question of technological change and the important role that the better use of leisure and recreation has in meeting the

challenge of change - which will be quite central to the concerns of my Government after the fifth of March.

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