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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 15359

Australian National Rugby Academy Announcement, Ballymore Park, Brisbane

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 30/06/2007

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 15359

E&OE...

Well thank you very much Peter, to your father, Bernie, the father of Ballymore and a great player in his time, Paul McLean, John O'Neill, George Brandis, Michael Johnson, David Crombie, many others who are part of the great Australian rugby family. I am delighted to be here this morning to announce that the Federal Government will contribute $25 million to the development of the Australian National Rugby Academy here at the spiritual home of Queensland Rugby Union, but of course this will be the headquarters and an academy for rugby union across the nation.

I have an undisguised passion for the game and I've been a keen follower of the Wallabies over the years and join everybody in wishing them well tonight and then again against the Springboks a week later in Sydney. Rugby union needs a central focus and I believe that the contribution of this $25 million towards the building of this Academy will provide it with that central focus.

I've been shown the plans and they're very exciting. I've spoken to the Queensland Premier who's assured me, and I don't think I'm misquoting him, I've always got to be careful when I quote other fellow political leaders, but I don't think I'm misquoting him in saying that he welcomed what the Federal Government was doing and he would see to it that a suitable secure title arrangement was developed for the ARU so that it would feel genuine ownership of this site and therefore a confidence and a capacity in dealing with it.

We are all immensely proud of the way in which rugby has progressed in Australia over the last quarter of a century. We acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of people like Paul McLean to the game and it is fitting that Paul's here, not only in his capacity as President of the Australian Rugby Union, but of course this is the ground he knows and loves best and he's made such a wonderful contribution to Australian rugby union as a player and as an administrator. It's a great family Australian rugby. They keep links with each other and I've been enormously impressed over the years of my association with people in Australian rugby of that great sense of camaraderie and that great sense of fellowship and teamwork, not only amongst the current players, but amongst the former players and the game's impact on the Australian nation today is extraordinary.

There'll be close to a sell out crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tonight. Now that would have been unthinkable when I was....when I remember going to watch the Wallabies play Fiji in 1952 on the rain-soaked Sydney Cricket Ground when Nick Shehadie was the captain of the Wallabies and to think that you were struggling then sometimes to get crowds, big crowds, and routinely playing against New Zealand the result was moderately depressing to say the least. But all of that has changed and there has been a wonderful revolution and that's been contributed to enormously by players and administrators and it's great to see John back as the CEO, he commenced duties on Thursday and it's wonderful to see him back in that position.

But I could go on, but I won't, about what the game means to so many people. But to have a headquarters, to have an Academy, to have a place where young players can be brought on, to have a centre of activity that will in appropriate ways be available to other sports, to AFL and to the National Rugby League, I think that is all part of the, the way in which we have adopted a truly national approach to football in this country. It's an amazing thing that you have a Bledisloe Cup in Melbourne and you have NRL matches held in AFL territory and of course the extraordinary success of the Brisbane Lions here in Brisbane and of course the Sydney Swans in Sydney. But they're other codes, we're here as passionate first and foremost supporters of Australian rugby this morning and I think this is a wonderful day. And I wish the game well. I know the money will be used wisely and it'll be available just as soon as all the usual paperwork, and there's always paperwork associated with these things, but you know the money will flow, we've got it in the bank and I can truly say,

Transcript 15359