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Sports lunch, Coolum, Queensland: transcript of address.

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4 March 2002



Thank you very much Tony. To Tony and Cherie Blair, Justin Madden, my other fellow prime ministers, presidents, heads of delegation, to Ron Walker, [Michael] Fennell and all the other people who’ve gathered today to express our solidarity at a political level with the cause of sport through the Commonwealth Games.

I don’t need to remind anybody in this audience of the central part that sport plays in the life of the Australian nation. And many of our great sporting moments of the last 20 or 30 years have been at Commonwealth Games events. The performances of Robert de Castella, Tony Charlton mentioned recently the 1998 Commonwealth Games and who of us will forget the wonderful performance of so many of our swimmers and our athletes at those games. But importantly today we honour the place of sport in the Commonwealth.

There are many sports that preoccupy the activities of the young and not so young men and women of the nations of the Commonwealth. Many of us are attracted to a sport that is played passionately by some Commonwealth nations and not so passionately by others, and in one or two cases not at all. But all of us whatever our other sporting passions come together to participate in the Commonwealth Games. Today’s lunch has a nice symbolism because it is jointly hosted by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and of course Manchester will be the host city for the Commonwealth Games later this year, and by the Australian Prime Minister. The city of Melbourne, the scene of the great 1956 Olympic Games and also may I say proudly as the Australian Prime Minister probably the location of one of the great sporting arenas of the world - the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Can I say it’s a delight for me to share the hosting of this lunch with the British Prime Minister and to you Tony and your wife Cherie we bid a very special welcome. I’m also delighted that Peter Bartells, the Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, is here



and he will be playing an increasingly active and participatory role in the activities of the Commonwealth Games. And that indefatigable organiser of special events sporting and otherwise, Ron Walker, who of course is responsible for the organisation of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to this sports lunch. The cause of sport in the Commonwealth is a great cause and we all remember the Gleneagles Declaration which made it absolutely clear that it was a fundamental principle of sport within the Commonwealth that it should be conducted in circumstances where there was absolutely no discrimination or prejudice on account of race, ethnicity or other variation in background.

But ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this lunch. It’s a gesture of support from the Commonwealth to the Games in Manchester and four years after that to the Games in Melbourne. And to our British friends can I say we wish you well in organising the Games. We wish it a great success. We suspend judgement on who should win the various events if they’re not Australian successes. But we know that it will be organised in the true tradition of Commonwealth sport and I’m delighted to have this opportunity of hosting this lunch with the British Prime Minister.

Thank you.