JOURNALIST: [Question about the Minister’s visit to France].
ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE AND SPORT: We have so much in common because we’ve both prioritised sport diplomacy, for us in particular in the Pacific – and we consider France our good friends and allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
Sport offers us a lot of opportunity in sporting diplomacy, and we've both chosen to prioritise putting government policy and money towards these major events that we're hosting. I think it's unusual but charming and helpful that we are following France in hosting the Rugby World Cup, we followed France hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup.
I've met today with the French Minister for Sport and the head of the Paris 2024 organising committee to talk about what they wish they'd known at the moment in the cycle that we are at with the years ahead of us.
JOURNALIST: What do you think about this idea of a two-tier global competition that’s being put forward?
ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE AND SPORT: That isn't something that we're considering. As the French Minister for sport and I discussed, our job is to try and lift up public policy to support and champion our sports. Those decisions are usually made at what we call the NSO, the National Sporting Organisation, or the International Federation level, and what's important for us is that we have good relationships in cooperation with them, and they lead and we work with them.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned the FIFA Women's World Cup…
ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE AND SPORT: I did!
JOURNALIST: Australia in 2029 is going to host the women’s international rugby competition. Particularly on the back of the success that we saw this year in Australia, just tell us why women's rugby is such a big deal and why Australia hosting it matters so much.
ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE AND SPORT: It's like a rocket ship, there's so much potential, and the Matildas at the Women's World Cup demonstrated that when you have a great team with great values, there's great possibility well beyond the pitch. And what the Matildas were able to do, lift up the country, has really changed women's sport in Australia, it really has. And for someone like me, who wants to make sure that women's sport is lifted to a position of equality alongside men's sport, they broke all the records, and we're already working with Rugby Australia to make sure that those same points of equality will be there for our Wallaroos as soon as possible, and that we can see those values and that same opportunity given to the Wallaroos in 2029.
JOURNALIST: One last question our sports reporters asked me to put to you, and that is just your comment on the results so far for the Wallabies in this competition.
ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE AND SPORT: Well, I'm a terrible watcher. I hope they're not cutting to me on Sunday night because you'll be in no doubt as to how I'm feeling about it. The thing about Australian teams and the thing about the Wallabies is that we work best with our backs to the wall, and it is do or die for us on Sunday night, but that is where we come out hardest. It was the same in the Canada match for the Matildas, for the France match, and I'm confident it will be the same for the Wallabies.
This is the youngest team in the tournament. They've got a lot of heart, and I was encouraged by the fact that so many people stepped forward to take responsibility for the result. That really does show leadership and a cohesive team, and that puts us in great stead both for Wales, where we have great form, and in the years to come.