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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 260

Mr RIORDAN (Phillip) - I wish to address some remarks to the important subject of sport and sporting facilities. The surf life saving movement in Australia is constituted by a dedicated band of young men who devote their time and energy to a noble community service. Their role is one of protection and assistance. They patrol the surf beaches of this country in order to prevent accidents. If accidents should occur, in spite of their efforts, they give such assistance as is necessary. If surfers get into difficulty, they render assistance to them and, in many cases, save lives. In many annual surf club reports presently being published the words 'no lives were lost' appear. In that very negative statement a very positive ideal is expressed. It is a positive achievement beyond the expectation of most. These young men give up their time free of charge. They risk body and limb in order to protect other human beings. They supervise rules and regulations which are designed to prevent accidents on the beach and in the surf. They prevent accidents such as collisions between surfers and board riders.

Surfing in this country is a wonderful sport; it is a magnificent recreation. In some circumstances, however, it can be a very dangerous sport indeed and lives have been lost. Freak accidents can and frequently do occur. The vagaries of the surf and the sea are unpredictable things. The surf life saving movement is engaged in a task which deserves the gratitude of the whole community and the recognition of this Parliament. What is not generally recognised about this movement is the work that is done for the very young. Small boys are trained to be good young Australians. They are taught to develop healthy bodies and they are taught and encouraged to have a healthy spirit - a spirit of fellowship and tolerance. Their cause is one of dedication to their fellow man.

Last night we heard that a sum of $150,000 is to be set aside for their work in the coming financial year. This is $100,000 more than was allocated previously and it is a real incentive to these young men who have to beg for the provision of facilities by which they save lives. Surely there is no parallel to this in our community. Surely there is no other group which has to go out on the street, to run raffles and to take around the hat. as it were, to raise the funds to provide community services and who give all their time free to save lives of other Australians. This Government has now brought forward a plan whereby dollar for dollar will be matched on the basis of $100,000 being made available for this noble work.

There is a national inability to relax. We find today that more and more of our funds are being spent on pills and potions to assist our population to relax from the cares of life. We are developing into a nation of pill takers. Previous governments have not felt it necessary or desirable, for reasons best known to themselves, but which are obscure to me, to try to prevent this tension and hypertension which are pervading our society. I strongly believe in the statement that prevention is better than cure. The encouragement for people to relax - the assistance to encourage an attitude of relaxation and recreation - is something which we should put to the fore. This proposal, which was outlined by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart), is an encouragement, not for our citizens to win at every sport or to engage in excessive, competitiveness, but to have a go, to relax. We need a scheme of adult recreation and relaxation. The aged as well as the young have needs.

To improve the quality of life is perhaps the central and basic theme on which this Government was elected and the central and basic theme on which this Government has acted so far. I believe the present allocation is only the start. It is a vital break-through of government attitudes in Australia. It is a break with the attitude of indifference which have characterised the past. This is not just for champions; this is for everybody. Champions are not to be denigrated. They are the ones who create the inspiration for others to follow. We have put forward a scheme to provide facilities for those who do not have the capaicty to win but every citizen has the capacity to participate in some form of relaxation, whatever the limitation of capacity and whatever the disability may be.

Australia is the last developed country in the world to accept the reseponsibility for encouragement of proper use of leisure time. Automation and advanced technology which is developing at a rapid rate must create the means for greater leisure. The question is: How do we spend it? Is it to be wasted or is it to be used for useful pursuits? The performing arts were given real encouragement in the Budget introduced last night, but sport has not been neglected on this occasion and there is real encouragement. I hope and believe that this Government recognises that our youth needs encouragement. The establishment knocks the youth of this country. They are ridiculed because of their hair styles and their mode of dress, but under the long hair, under the unconventional style of dress there are very fine young men, the young men who will develop this country and make it a better place to live in. What we need to do in this Parliament is to recognise that and to recognise that they need encouragement and assistance to cope with the strains that we have developed for them.

We must not neglect the need for healthy bodies. It has been proved beyond doubt by serious study that better work and better performance will be achieved when there are healthy bodies, when the population is physically fit. European countries are spending large sums of money on physical and mental recreation. The German and Japanese industries spend huge sums of money on physical fitness of employees. They have found that it reduces absenteeism, and much more importantly it reduces the accident rate in industry I believe that the Minister is considering measures designed to encourage industries to play a more active role in this direction, and I am sure that he will have the support of the trade union movement and responsible employers in his efforts, and he certainly has and deserves the support of members on this side of the House and, I hope, on the other side. The central point to be remembered is that employees are people.

It is possibly significant that Australia's greatest success in the last Olympic Games was in water sports - 6 gold medals in swimming, 2 in yachting. Australia has been very fortunately blessed with natural resources for water sports. They do not need to be provided; they are already provided by nature. The cheapest subsidy is in respect of water sports because we have the facilities specially provided. I think that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation has made a most auspicious start in pioneering a new concept, a new aspect in Australian Government. August 21 is a day which will be remembered for generations as the day we started this new concept. The Minister deserves the gratitude of Australia and the encouragement of this House, and I believe he will receive both. We must not denigrate, we must not underestimate the natural resources we have in this country for sport and. recreation. Bondi Beach, which I have the privilege to represent, is famous throughout the world as a magnificent water sport area. It is a symbol of the Australian way of life, of relaxation, of the surf, the sun and the sand. It is to Australia, and particularly to the great city of

Sydney, what Times Square is to New York. I wish to place on record my appreciation and that of my electorate of the attitude the Minister for Tourism and Recreation has adopted and the steps he has taken so far in this Parliament.

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