Minister for Aged Care and Sport - Speech - 17 April 2023

Read the transcript of Minister Wells' speech at the Step up Oceania inaugural conference.

The Hon Anika Wells MP
Minister for Aged Care
Minister for Sport

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It’s a pleasure to be here.

I want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Together, Australians stand on the shoulders of 1600 generations of First Nations people and that is our shared history.

I also acknowledge:

  • Dr Robin Mitchell, President of Oceania National Olympic Committees
  • Congratulations Dr Mitchell on your recent re-appointment as president.
  • Paul Bird, President of Oceania Paralympic Committee
  • Ian Chesterman, President of Australian Olympic Committee
  • Jock O’Callaghan, President of Paralympics Australia
  • And everyone involved in sports leadership from around this region, distinguished speakers, and members of the sporting fraternity joining us here in Brisbane.

Welcome to the ‘Step Up Oceania’ inaugural conference! The first of many I’m sure.

This Government understands the importance of working in genuine partnership with Pacific countries.

That’s why we have made it a priority to show up, show respect and engage transparently.

The Prime Minister’s visits to Papua New Guinea and Fiji reinforced our strong bonds.

While Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has made 15 visits to Pacific Island countries since the May election.

Our Pacific Minister Pat Conroy has made 11 visits to Pacific island countries since taking on the job.

As Australia’s Minister for Sport… I am determined to ensure the green and gold decade, culminating in Brisbane 2032, benefits our region rather than just our nation.

We must do more than take the opportunities and seize the moments.

We must generate the opportunities!

We must create the moments!

And ensure they ripple outwards to the Oceania region.

Brisbane 2032 will extend the legacies of the Games beyond Brisbane, beyond Queensland, and beyond Australia’s border to the Pacific and Oceania region.

So far, the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been understandably dominated by talk of governance and stadiums.

The Australian Government has committed $3.4 billion dollars in infrastructure spend to ensure our built environment is world-leading.

However, as Minister for Sport, it is my duty to ensure there is purpose-built infrastructure… for people.

And I mean all people, not just Australians…

My mother is a Kiwi…so I feel particularly passionate about the importance of our relationships across the Tasman and across the wider Pacific.

And… if you haven’t noticed… I am passionate about sport.

I co-created the Park Run event in my local community here on the northside of Brisbane… to help people get active by jogging, walking, or attempting to run while pushing a twin pram like I do.

The weekly Saturday event recently celebrated its 7th anniversary and is entrenched in its community.

I am taking that same drive and enthusiasm to being a Federal Sport Minister.

Our mission for Brisbane 2032 is to foster greater participation in sport so more people reap the preventive health, social inclusion, and connectivity benefits it provides.

Australians and people across the Pacific share a love of sport – it brings us closer together.

Our Government is proud to invest in the PacificAus Sports program, which creates new opportunities for Pacific athletes to train, play and grow together, and unlock the potential of a new generation of sporting champions.

And… Australia’s support to the Oceania National Olympic Committee and its members during the final preparations for the Tokyo Games, further highlights our shared agenda.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our Pacific neighbours.

Thank you for teaching us how to be better sportspeople.

We have learned so much from you about grace, about faith on the field, about warmth towards rivals, about pride in culture, about treating teammates as family members.

These elements have brought a needed evolution to the Australian sporting psyche, and I thank you for this.

In Australia we are focused on creating an environment where more women and girls are able to fully participate at the grassroots and elite levels.

We need more pathways for female leadership, more incentives for girls to pursue sporting passions, more mechanisms that protect our vulnerable, more professional competitions that foster talent, an eco-system where genders are treated equally.

This means creating structures that further support women in sport…so there’ll be more Sam Kerr’s, Emma McKeon’s, and Ash Barty’s inspiring everyone to get out and have a go.

Brisbane 2032 can be the driver for greater sporting equality in Australia and beyond, the driver for better people infrastructure.

The Oceania National Olympic Committees, its event partners and sponsors, have created a powerful platform for dialogue at this inaugural ‘Step Up Oceania’ conference.

At the heart of sport is of course – athletes.

I welcome— Olympians, Paralympians, and every athlete champion —joining the dialogue today to help secure a “Home Games Advantage” for the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, and the region.

I recognise a few familiar faces with Lote Tuqiri and Ken Wallace joining the athlete panel session later this morning.

I was in my teens when Lote was dashing down the Brisbane Broncos left flank in the early 2000’s and vividly remember the impact he had as arguably the Broncos first pacific superstar.

An impact still resonating today.

It’s so exciting to see the Pasifika representation with Ryan Pini from Papua New Guinea, Dame Valerie Adams from New Zealand and Fiji Paralympian Mere Rodan.

I’m also pleased to welcome Paea Wolfgramm, of Tonga, the Pacific’s first ever Medallist at any Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Australian Government will optimise the Games legacy as we strive towards healthy, active, inclusive, accessible, and equitable sporting communities in our region.

ONOC president Dr Mitchell, you said recently “Brisbane 2032 must go beyond inspiration and must be remembered as the Games that gave the Pacific Islands a new level of outcomes, and a new level of performance”.

That’s what the Australian Government wants as well.

We are stronger together.

It now gives me great pleasure to officially open the inaugural ‘Step Up Oceania’ Conference.


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