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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2078

Dr CHARLESWORTH(10.27) —I take this opportunity to speak about an issue which I have avoided in this place. It comes about because of the whingeing and bleatings of the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) who induced me to speak on the substance of his harangue. The honourable member was concerned about the acceptance of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) at many sporting events compared with the cynicism which surrounded the previous incumbent's adventures on to the sporting fields of this country. The honourable member pleaded foul. He pleaded unfair and he claimed that media bias was involved. The acceptance of the Prime Minister by the media and by sports people is, in fact, quite easy to understand-hence, perhaps, the difficulty of the Opposition to understand and accept it.

The reasons are very clear. The Prime Minister has a genuine interest in and regard for sport as, indeed, has the honourable member for Casey (Mr Steedman). This is in contradistinction to the superficial approach of the previous incumbent. The Prime Minister is an active and talented sportsman in his own right. I am sure he will take every opportunity to indicate that to members of the Opposition. Because of these two things the Prime Minister has the insight to understand sport and this is appreciated by sports people. Of course the media understand this and it is reflected in the coverage they give the Prime Minister. On the other hand, sports people and the media saw the former Prime Minister's entries on to the sporting field as cynical and perverted. They reacted accordingly. The Opposition may well ask why. The answer is quite simple . It is the previous Government's record in this area.

I have only a short amount of time in which to talk about the matter, but let us just discuss one or two points. All the initiatives and promise of Frank Stewart's time in the portfolio were stonewalled and deflected. Perhaps the only exception was that of Bob Ellicott who took up the concept of the Australian Institute of Sport. But political expediency took over and sound mangement was put into the back seat. We saw a post-Montreal inquiry which suited the 1977 election campaign. In 1980 the Prime Minister travelled the country bullying and cajoling a politically weak and defenceless minority, the training athletes. The Moscow boycott destroyed the hopes and aspirations of a generation of young athletes in this country. Again in 1980 the common denominator was a Federal election, and it continued. This time last year we saw the then Prime Minister's awkward and insincere grandstanding at the Commonwealth Games. Again, there was an election in the air.

One would think that the previous Government would have learnt but in March and February of this year an election advertising campaign using sports people was cynically rejected. Is it any wonder that the sports people of this country are delighted with the enthusiasm and drive of the present Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown)? It is any wonder that the sports people of this country are delighted with the 54 per cent increase in allocation for sport? That is an increase which is indicative of this Government's commitment. Is it any wonder that the people of this country are delighted to have a Prime Minister who is indeed knowledgeable about and empathetic to sport? The Australian Labor Party has breathed new life into sport and sports people.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 10.30 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until Tuesday, 1 November 1983, at 2 p.m., in accordance with the resolution agreed to this day.

House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.