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Address at the reception to honour the Australian Women's basketball team: Member's Hall, Parliament House: 18 October 2006. \n

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18 October 2006




Mr Speaker, Mr President, Mr Beazley, the Leader of the Opposition, my parliamentary colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. Janette and I are delighted to have this reception to express our great pride and admiration to the Opals on their wonderful achievement. And I also particularly acknowledge the presence of Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the Chief of the Defence Force because the Opals are sponsored by Defence and they play under the very meritorious title of Defencejobs Opals. The feat the Opals had in winning against Russia in Brazil is a remarkable tribute to Lauren Jackson and she has with us today Tully Bevilaqua, Hollie Grima, Emily McInerny and Erin Philips. The other members of the team, as a token of the skill and esteem of Australian women basketballers, are scattered around Europe playing in different competitions. And I think what is remarkable about this victory is not only the achievement in itself, but what it has done for a sport which is growing in popularity, and we try in the national parliament to do honour to teams that win world championships in the name of Australia. It happens from time to time, and when it does happen, I think it is appropriate that the team be invited here to the national parliament so we can pay tribute to them.

My real engagement with this team, I think occurred at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne when I witnessed their unbelievably exciting victory and the enthusiasm and the vibrancy of the team members and the joy that they brought to the crowd was absolutely terrific. So in expressing my admiration, I recall their track record of winning bronze in the world championship in 2002 and 1998 and of course back in 1994 the Opals were placed fourth, but the fact that we made it through the entire tournament undefeated is a great testament to the team.


Although she is not here today, I do want to congratulate Penny Taylor on being voted the most valuable player of the tournament, one place ahead of her team-mate Lauren Jackson. And I do want to recognise the critical role that the Opals staff played in supporting the team, and in particular I congratulate the coach, Jan Stirling, who is with us. Coaches are always very, very important, indeed they are crucial not only for the skill they bring, but also for the morale-boosting that they provide. So in congratulating you Lauren and your team members, you’ve brought great pride to Australia, you’ve bought great distinction to women’s basketball and the country is very pleased, and very, indeed, honoured. We here in the national parliament congratulate you on your success. And I know that you will be working very hard towards success at the Beijing Olympic Games which, of course, are now getting very close. It’s the next big opportunity that the Opals will have to show the world that we deserve the number one title. Congratulations and welcome to the national parliament, you have the warm admiration and the great support of all of us. Thank you very much.