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Address on the occasion of the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.

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2 APRIL 2006

• Mr Ron Rankin, President, Surf Life Saving Australia, and Mrs Rankin • The Honourable Rod Welford, Queensland Minister for Education and Arts • The Honourable Sheila McHale, Western Australian Minister for Tourism • Councillor Ron Clarke, Mayor, Gold Coast City Council • Councillor Terry Tyzack, Mayor, The City of Sterling, Western Australia • Distinguished guests • Life Savers all

• Ladies and gentlemen • Boys and girls

Good afternoon, everyone, on this spectacular day at Kurrawa Beach. Marlena and I are delighted to be here for the Australian Championships, and to support Surf Life Saving as an outstanding symbol of national life - I call it the great Australian epic - a story of courage, dedication and skill that has led to the saving of over 500,000 lives since 1906. And very well done to that doyen of surf life savers, Clint Robinson with his 13th Kayak tile win and his 24th national crown.   As a boy from the remote mining town of Wiluna, Western Australia, I grew up with a love of the Australian bush.   Yet, a view of the Australian landscape and way of life would be incomplete without due recognition of our remarkable coastline and Australians' enduring passion for their beaches and surf. It should be a matter of considerable pride to Australians that surf life saving developed in our country and has since extended worldwide.   Australia's first official surf life saving club and the first in the world - was founded at Bondi Beach, Sydney, one hundred years ago.   Apparently there was little need for surf life saving clubs much before this time, as surf swimming was seen as highly inappropriate, and indeed it was illegal to do so during daylight hours. Men and women in those days could only 'bathe' in the early morning and late evening, and never at the same time!   Ladies and gentlemen. Australians have a great talent for voluntary service, and what better example of the volunteer than the Australian life saver, with their respect for life, commitment to educating young Australians, their sense of civic responsibility, and their maintenance of the highest safety standards.   As Patron of Surf Life Saving Australia, it is a privilege to be here to support such an iconic organisation. The competitors, officials, first aid and safety officers, volunteers, sponsors, coaches and staff, make this annual event not only the largest sporting occasion of its type in the world, but also one of the most enjoyable and accessible.  

Congratulations to the members of the Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club who have hosted the Australian

Championships since 1995 and this year have catered to 8,300 competitors nation wide. What a superb record of service to the ideals of surf life saving.   Today's handover from the Kurrawa Club to Scarboro in Western Australia, reflects the regional strength of surf life saving, and a recognition of its importance along the vast length of Australia's populated coastline.   I'm sure the West Aussies will do the country and lifesaving proud.   Ladies and gentlemen. Our country is greatly indebted to Surf Life Saving Australia. A half a million lives saved is an incredible achievement. Thank you to the 113,000 members in 304 surf life saving clubs nation wide for keeping the legacy of service alive, for sharing your talent, integrity and motivation, and for furthering the cause of excellence and caring in this country.   Well done to you all.   Thank you.