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Transcript of joint press conference with John Eales, Michael Clarke, Melissa Barbieri, Sally Fitzgibbons and Israel Folau: National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Redfern: 6 October 2011: Captains' Forum; Cricket tour of South Africa; Australia v South Africa in the Rugby World Cup; Australian Labor Party

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MINISTER THE HON MARK ARBIB Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development Minister for Sport Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness



ISSUES: Captains’ Forum, Cricket tour of South Africa, Australia v South Africa in the Rugby World Cup, Australian Labor Party

Thanks everyone for coming today to the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. This is one of the most remarkable changes we’ve seen in Redfern, this centre, and what it’s doing for young kids. So far they’ve had 10,000 kids from across the country come here for programs. It is turning people’s lives around. It’s an important place for this local community but it’s also an important place for the Australian Government and we work in conjunction with the Centre to try and improve the lives of countless Indigenous Australians.

It is an appropriate venue to hold the Captains’ Forum. This is the second time the Government has held the Captain’s Forum with the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Today we have over 30 of Australia’s sporting captains but also leading sportsmen and women to discuss sport, to discuss how we can use sport to achieve goals in social inclusion, in closing the gap, but also just in life itself.

With me today of course I have some of Australia’s best known sports captains and athletes. I’ve got from surfing Sally Fitzgibbons, who is currently second in the world championships. I’ve got Melissa Barbieri who’s the captain of the Matildas. Of course John Eales everyone knows from rugby union, but also John has been the driving force with John Bertrand behind the Hall of Fame but also behind the Captains’ Forum, so I’ll ask John to speak in a second. Of course we’ve got Michael Clarke the captain of the Australian cricket team and Israel Folau from GWS.

So from the Australian Government’s perspective we want to make sure all kids have the opportunities through sport. We want to get kids away from the Playstation, away from the computers, out onto the playing fields, out to the swimming pools, so that they can get the opportunities that sport provides. And also of course the Government has a major policy in closing the gap and certainly we believe that sport can play a big part in doing that.

I might hand over to John Eales to talk about the Captain’s Forum.

JOHN EALES: Thank you Minister. It’s wonderful to be here today for the second forum and as the Minister says, it’s a fantastic place to host the Forum. It’s really fitting and very importantly, symbolic of what we’re about. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame, which is chaired by John Bertrand, inaugurated the Captains’ Forum a couple

of years ago in conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission and typically, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame was an organisation that looked back to celebrate the success of Australian sport but we felt that it could do so much more. Part of the ‘more’ was looking forward to inspire the athletes of the future and the athletes of the present. That was about bring the captains of Australian sport together. The first forum that was held a couple of years ago was a great success as far as what the captains got out of it and it took very little to convince them to come along again this year and there’s a lot of new faces this year, but we’re looking forward to today and the outcomes that will come through from the end of today.

MINISTER ARBIB: Thanks John. We might just each of the captains and leaders just to say a few words about what today means to them and also about their visit to the Centre this morning. All the players actually got this morning to tour around so they all have a perspective on the new Centre. We might start with Michael.

MICHAEL CLARKE: Thanks Minister. Yeah look I think it’s obviously firstly a privilege to be here today. The facility is unbelievable and it’s a great opportunity for all of us to spend some time today talking about each other’s sport and what we can do to continue to give boys and girls the opportunities that we’ve had growing up to get involved in sport. I think you know sport, no matter what you play whether its cricket, surfing, netball, rugby league, AFL it certainly doesn’t matter, but we’re trying to get as many boys and girls as we can out on to the sporting field to as the Minister said to take them away from the television and the computers. I think sport has certainly taught me a lot about life not just the game of cricket but a lot of the stuff off the field as well. So hopefully today we can continue to learn more about each other and each other’s sports and keep getting to the boys and girls to get them on the fields.

MINISTER ARBIB: Thanks Michael. Melissa

MELISSA BARBIERI: Thanks Minister. Thank you very much for having me here in Redfern, it’s my first visit to Redfern and its pretty outstanding facilities here and I wouldn’t mind getting the Matildas out here just to soak up the atmosphere that’s in here. There’s nothing but love in this facility and I think it’s fantastic. With the leadership forum today, I’m also looking at not just getting the girls and boys out there, but I want to make sure that I want to promote to the parents that the more that you can keep your kids in sport the better it is for them health wise, but also life-long lessons I think. If you can keep your kids in sport then it’s one of the things that as a future Australian who hopes to have kids one day, it’s one of the things that’s going to really help our country. And as a role model myself, I mean I’m the captain of the Matildas, but I want to learn from people today and hopefully I can do as much as I can with the guys around me. These names and these faces around me I just can’t wait to get started. Thank you.

MINISTER ARBIB: We might hear from Sally Fitzgibbons from surfing

SALLY FITZGIBBONS: Thank you Minister. It’s just so great to take time out from touring on the world surfing, the elite tour and attend the Captains’ forum. It’s an honour and a privilege to be listening to these guys that I look up to and that are inspirations to myself. So I think having all the leaders in one place it’s a great time to brainstorm and run off what each sports doing and just work on improving individual sports and taking those tools we need to lead our own sports in to the future. Being a part of women’s surfing its continually growing and only bigger and better things to come. So I think there will be great things to come out of this today and I think what a better place to have it than here at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. So

thanks for having us. Sports has been a big part of my life and my upbringing and hopefully we can reach out to a few kids and it just snowballs into something where there’s going to be more kids on the beach or the playing fields. There’s only good things to come, so thank you.

MINISTER ARBIB: Israel Folau from GWS. And GWS, as people know, are a new team but they’ve been doing a huge amount of work out in Western Sydney with the local Indigenous population but also with the multicultural families and young kids so we might hear from Israel as well.

ISRAEL FOLAU: Thanks very much Minister. I feel really honoured to be here today and like the Minister said, we’ve done a lot of work out in the West Sydney area and especially myself, I’ve been out to a lot of the schools and communities and it’s just good for the young kids to get the opportunity because out there in the Western Sydney area their biggest sport there is Rugby League but for me, you know, I’ve switched over to AFL, but just kids to get try to play the sport would be great for them. Like these guys said, just for them to get off the television and the games would be great. Look, I think it’s a great opportunity for young kids. Growing up for myself I didn’t get to see facilities like this so I think it would be great for especially, myself as a Polynesian I think it’s great for them and the Indigenous guys to see the opportunity that they have in front of them and make the most of it because it will be great for them. Look today is a great day for this to grow on so I think it’s a great thing. Thanks.

MINISTER ARBIB: Ok, thanks Israel, I might ask the media if there any questions for any of the athletes?

JOURNALIST: And then yourself afterwards?


JOURNALIST: Alright, for Michael Clarke. I’ve got two South Africa questions, one for Michael and one for John.

MICHAEL CLARKE: John can answer both. (LAUGHTER)

JOURNALIST: So ahead of the South Africa tour, the Twenty20 and the Test, what’s your, what’s your team’s form like at the moment?

MICHAEL CLARKE: Well we’ve just come back from Sri Lanka and had a little bit of success there which is nice. The guys are in a pretty confident place at the moment. A few of the guys are back home now having a rest, a lot of them are over in India playing in the Champions League. All the boys are very keen to get to South Africa, we’ve got the Twenty20s and the One Dayers first and hopefully we can continue to build a bit of momentum from Sri Lanka and have some more success in South Africa and bring that back for the Australian summer.

JOURNALIST: And what’s your trick this time for this South Africa tour?

MICHAEL CLARKE: What’s my trick?

JOURNALIST: Any magic out there?

MICHAEL CLARKE: My trick is to try and win every game we play. Yeah look I think the key to our success in Sri Lanka was our preparation, the boys worked really hard

and put a lot of time and effort into their training, so I’m sure South Africa will be exactly the same.

JOURNALIST: How tough will it be, like you want to make the top four, to make it into that test series. How important is it to get a win over there?

MICHAEL CLARKE: Yeah look, like I say, it’s going to be a tough tour. South Africa are a very strong team, especially in their own backyard. But it is a good test for us. The rankings are important, I guess to a certain level, but it’s more important how we get out of bed and try and get better every day. I think that’s probably our focus at the minute. You know we’ve got a lot of work to do to get back up the ranking table, but first and foremost let’s try and win these Twenty20s and One Dayers and concentrate on the Test Matches after that.

JOURNALIST: Is there added pressure trying to make it into that top four?

MICHAEL CLARKE: Not to me there’s not. You know the pressure is already there. You want to play at the highest level; you want to be the best team in the world while there’s pressure already. So like I say it’s about trying to get better every day and I’m confident if we keep working hard we’ll end up in that top four anyway.

JOURNALIST: And how much are you enjoying being skipper with all this extra responsibility on top?

MICHAEL CLARKE: This is one of the good parts I guess, I’m very lucky, like I said to be in this environment today. But, look, I’ve enjoyed it, there’s going to be challenges along the way no doubt, as I’ve probably already experienced through the review and, you know, with Troy coming in as our coach for South Africa there’s a few things off the field happening. But as long as I’ve got time to do my own preparation and make sure I’m ready to walk out onto that field and perform, firstly and individually and then also help my team have as much success as possible, then I think things will be fine.

JOURNALIST: And has Phil stepped in yet? Or what’s the working relationship there?

MICHAEL CLARKE: Has who stepped in?




MICHAEL CLARKE: Yeah sorry Troy. Ah yeah Troy’s taken over the coaching role yeah, so there’s been a lot of communication over the last week or so in preparation for South Africa. We’ve got really good people around him with our support staff, Craig Mc Dermott, Steve Rixon and Justin Langer so they’re going to play a big part in South Africa as well.

JOURNALIST: Michael I just wanted to ask you a question about I suppose the balance between managing the tactical stuff on the field, which you did very well in Sri Lanka, and also I suppose dealing with everything else that comes with captaincy, and if it does feel right over there, are you happy with where it sits?

MICHAEL CLARKE: Well, while you’re winning you’ll say it’s right. Look I don’t think you ever know, and I think for me it’s important, like I say my preparation comes first, so if I’m not scoring runs I’m not in the team, so I can’t be captain. So as long as I’m doing that, as long as I’m giving myself every chance to perform individually and then putting my main focus on the team, how I can help them have success, then the stuff off the field, you know I’ve got time for that. But, I certainly won’t be compromising the team or my individual preparation for anything off the field, and fortunately it’s been fine so far, and I’m confident that it will continue.

JOURNALIST: That extends I guess to organisational type stuff, you in the tour or team-wise?

MICHAEL CLARKE: Yeah well that’s I think the important thing about having good people around you, Shane Watson being my Vice-Captain, the support staff and now Troy as our stand-in coach. They all have roles to play and it’s important that I utilise

their help, advice and a bit of their guidance as well to give me a hand, because I certainly can’t be doing everything.

JOURNALIST: Just on, I suppose, I guess the Indigenous side of things it’s something that in Australian cricket there’s been a bit of a push to grow that side of cricket for a while, do you think we’re making some progress?

MICHAEL CLARKE: I think we’re trying and I think that’s very important. Like I’ve said before, getting as many boys and girls to play cricket is certainly our goal, the team’s goal, and a big part of Cricket Australia’s ambition. And Indigenous kids are exactly the same; I think we’ve seen already through the Australian junior ranks more kids out there playing and more Indigenous kids having success. I know Jason Gillespie used to brag about it all the time and I think it’s a really important part of all sport to try and give every kid, no matter what your background no matter where you come from, the same opportunity, and that’ our goal. Thanks guys.

JOURNALIST: Just about playing South Africa on Sunday. Windy conditions -

MINISTER ARBIB: We’ll have to be quick because we have to wrap up and get back to the Forum.

JOURNALIST: Just one question about South Africa, how we’ll play against South Africa on Sunday. Windy conditions in Wellington. How are we going to go up against them in the forward pack?

JOHN EALES: I’m probably not the expert on that stuff these days on that stuff. I think Australia has a good record against the Springboks over the last couple of years and they’d be reasonably confident going into the game. The great thing about the World Cup that we’re seeing at the moment, the Rugby World Cup, is that there has been an emergence of a lot of other nations to really come to the fore and we’re going into the quarter finals this weekend and really, none of the matches, you’d probably say the All Blacks should beat Argentina, but they’re under a bit of pressure at the moment as well, but all the other matches are up in the air. It’s so hard to pick a winner. The Australia - South Africa match is very, very close to call. We can win. We’ve shown that, when we’re at our best with our best team out there. We’re as good as anyone else in the world.

JOURNALIST: So will David Pocock be called on to be the hero on Sunday, do you think?

JOHN EALES: Well David’s always a bit of a hero when he plays. He’s an outstanding player and we missed him and we missed Stephen Moore in the game against Ireland. We’re the only team over the last couple of years that has beaten New Zealand when both teams have had their best teams on the paddock, when there’s been something on offer, and that was the Tri-Nations trophy a few weeks ago. So we’ve got a similar team to what we had going out then and we’ll be in really good shape. We’ve beaten South Africa at their best, in South Africa recently too, so I think we’re in pretty good shape.

JOURNALIST: Bakkies’ been ruled out for the Boks. How much will that hurt them?

JOHN EALES: I didn’t realise that, actually. Look he is a very big physical presence so they’ll miss him but they’ve got adequate replacements.

MINISTER ARBIB: Okay, thanks.

JOURNALIST: Minister Arbib, I’ve got a sporting question for you, do you feel that Allan Griffin and Mark Bishop, from the reserve bench, the reserve players are undermining your captain?

MINISTER ARBIB: I’ll leave the speculation to the media. From the Government’s perspective and from a Minister’s perspective we’re doing our jobs and getting on with it every day. And today is about using sport to try to change people’s lives, using the power of sport and that’s something that I believe; and I know that’s something that all the captains and all the sporting leaders here believe as well. Thanks for coming everyone, we appreciate it.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) unhelpful going on Sky News, saying there are these two Labor MPs trying to bring back Kevin Rudd. I mean how unhelpful is that to you?

MINISTER ARBIB: Look I’ll leave that to the media to speculate. From a Government perspective, from a Ministers’ perspective we’re just doing our jobs. That’s what’s important. That’s what the Australian people deserve and that’s what they’re after and that’s what we’re doing. Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST: Just one final question there, is Kevin Rudd’s comeback as Prime Minister more likely than Ricky Ponting making a comeback as captain?

MINISTER ARBIB: Look, again, I’ll just leave that to the media to speculate. I know that’s something the media is talking about and certainly the Liberal Party is talking about but from a Government perspective we’re doing our jobs and getting on with it. Thanks very much and enjoy the day.