Thank you for the invitation to be with you today.
I acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we meet today, the Turrbal and Yuggera People. Together we stand on the shoulders of 1600 generations of First Nations people and that is our shared history.
I extend that acknowledgement and respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today; and I’d like to recognise the 60 First Nations Olympians and 16 First Nations Paralympians who have represented our country.
May I also acknowledge: the Queensland Premier, the Lord Mayor, Olympians and Paralympians, and the inspiring young athletes here today, Ian Chesterman, Catherine Clarke, Members of the OCOG Board, Jen Williams, our host today, and the Property Council of Australia. All of my colleagues from local state and government who made themselves available for lunch today. And you - supporters of World Class sport in Australia.
I couldn’t have dreamed of a better moment to be given the job of Federal Minister for Sport. And, under my steady stewardship, Queensland has yet to lose an Origin series. And I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to stand here with the green and gold runway stretching before us.
Growing up watching the Clarke and Dawe mockumentary The Games with my family, I never dreamed I was informing myself of the guardrails of my professional life ahead. A cultural shibboleth… that I have been using in my eight weeks on the job so far, when I meet about the Games, when I hear about the Masterplan and I enquire as to the length of the running track and am told “Minister… it’s about 100 metres.”
Ten years from now, Brisbane, the city that we love, will host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. My daughter will be the same age that I was during the Sydney Olympic Games. I remember everyone being so excited at school that week, and that mum let us have a fancy dinner picnic on a rug in front of the TV to watch the opening ceremony. That was a pretty big deal because we were absolutely not allowed to eat on the carpet.
And I remember being so jealous of Nikki Webster, we were about the same age, because she got to fly around the stadium among giant neon marine life. And now as a parent, I wonder how many times Nikki Webster’s mum checked the bungee harness and if anyone ever honoured her for her nerves of steel and commitment to the cause. By the time we reach 2032, all Australian kids will have had a swathe of opportunities to experience world-class sporting competition right here at home.
This week I had the honour of meeting some of our mighty Matildas and marking the one-year countdown to the FIFA Women's World Cup, the first time it will be held in the Southern hemisphere and with an expected audience of one billion people worldwide. My hope is, by 2032, we have multiple Olympic sports with women's teams as popular as the Matildas.
This runway is also an amazing opportunity to reaffirm sports place in our nation’s psyche and inspire a new generation of athletes. The next 10 years will create significant socio-economic benefits that will last generations and help drive Australia’s post COVID-19 recovery.
I, as Sports Minister, and the Albanese Labor Government, are here with you on the Green and Gold runway because we recognise the enormous opportunity it presents to achieve our national priorities.
These include economic recovery, trade and tourism, diplomacy (particularly in the South Pacific), high performance sport, community sport participation, preventive health, social inclusion and cohesiveness.
Our investment in sport is about getting more Australians involved, bringing communities together, boosting the economy, and supporting our elite athletes to pursue excellence on the global stage. We recognise the importance of sport being safe, fair and inclusive, so that every Australian can feel the rush only sport can bring you.
The Australian Olympic Committee, Paralympics Australia and the Brisbane 2032 Games partners, in conjunction with the Property Council of Australia, have brought together some of the biggest names in Australian sport and business here today to discuss how Brisbane, Queensland and Australia can benefit from the Olympics and Paralympics opportunity. You and your organisations will bring skills and support crucial to grasping that opportunity – a generational opportunity – to showcase the value and economic benefits of sport.
But the main focus of the Green and Gold runway will, of course, be the athletes – the people whose pursuit of excellence lifts us all. What does it mean to an athlete to compete on the world stage here at home? Now, I’m a ParkRunner, so I have no idea, and there are plenty of Olympians here in the room, so I will defer to them.
Dual Olympian kayaker Aly (Alyssa) Bull, put it like this: "It’s so hard to describe, there’s nothing like it. It’s one of the biggest events as an athlete you will ever have the chance to compete at. It’s what’s everyone works towards. And it will be pretty epic to have everyone in your support network be able to be so close in Brisbane. It will be pretty special."
Olympians don’t get to do what they do without a lot of people helping them along the way. The unsung chorus for many Australian Olympians are our volunteers. Our sport sector wouldn’t exist without the support of the 2.9 million Australians who look after our people, our fields, our games. They are the lifeblood of Australian sport.
The Australian Sports Commission, led by Josephine and Kieren Who are here today, has led the development of the Sport Volunteer Coalition, which is made up of representatives from sports, the Australian Government and industry bodies. That’s important, because over the next decade, our sporting sector will need an extra 130,000 volunteers. For the people in this room, our stewardship of the green and gold runway will be critical to that success.
When the Sydney 2000 Games were announced, Australia had seven years to prepare. And history tells us the organisers got those Games pretty right. They were an unparalleled success. This time, we have 10 years – we have a golden opportunity – a green and gold opportunity – to, dare I say it Premier, make this Games even better than Sydney. I look forward to working closely with you as essential partners in the continued stewardship of our national sporting history and culture.
Aligning our sport, our infrastructure and our communities, to leave the best possible legacy – a healthy, active and sporting post-pandemic Australia. Thank you.