PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9376


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 10/10/1994

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 9376

* TEL: 1O. Oct. 94 17: 55 ND. 018 P .01,
Thank you very much. It is a very great pleasure to be here in the AIS for this
welcome home. One amongst many, I know, but one nevertheless very
heartfelt. Because, for most of you this has been the place where that extra
bit of tone and interest and commitment has made all the difference. But, it is
a chance for us all to say directly, rather than through newspapers or motions
in parliament, a simple thank you for the dedication and the commitment that
you have shown, each of you, in representing this country with such
distinction. I think all of us understand the enormous personal commitment
an athlete makes to excellence that doggedness, that
sustenance... sustaining power when your body is telling you to stop, when
you're wondering about your life's choice when all those pressures are on
you and you keep on going. And that is, I think, a mark of a champion and
champions, It is, as Jim said, sport is about excellence, and it's about a celebration of
beauty it's about a celebration of spirit and the human form. And it, I think,
in that celebration, transmits so much to this country about what we are and
what we have become. And no doubt, when you stand on the winning
rostrum and you are saluted as Australians, it must run through your mind
that you stand there representing the country and what it is, and I think that is
we are proud of Australia, we're nationalists all of us, but fortunately
nationalism has never got the better of us. And we have it in its proper place,
but pride is always something that Australians deserve to hold dear, and one
I know that if you are an Australian athlete comes by natural instinct by pure
I want to say that I think it's a tremendously important thing for the
Government to commit itself to Australian sport, because sport is so much of
the ethos and culture of this country but beyond that it is a celebration of
young Australians, of what most people in their youth are capable of. And
even those not so youthful. But the fact is, I am delighted that we have been
able to build all of us an Institute of this standing because, Jim said earlier,

TEL: iO. Oct. 94 17: 55 No. O1S-P. O2,
that I think the institute is an important body in world terms the fact is, there'
is probably nothing better than this in the world. There may be things its
equal, but there Is certainly nothing better. And it's a great tribute to the
coaches, to the sport scientists, the support staff, arnd to the Director Deek
for the tremendous job which the AIS has done on this occasion. I think
something I've got some statistics here in the sports with an AIS program,
87% of our medal winners were receiving or had received direct
Commonwealth support from the AIS, and an overall two-thirds of the medal
winners received direct AIS support. So, there are statistics, " statistics and
damn statistics" as they say, but I think they are fairly compelling ones, so
much that I think all of us in this room believe that they reflect the value of
this effort. So, they are great results and let me congratulate you all again
the AIS and the individual members of the team. And I know that with the
Olympics coming up and the Olympic athlete program, which I announced on
behalf of the Government, we are going to make just that extra special effort
to bring our athletes... to give them that world competitive edge coming up to
the 2000 Olympics.
Now, I know a lot of you have had since the Games other welcomes home,
other terrific performances around the world with the World Championships in
other events, and while there is no particular welcome homes for that, let's
congratulate you those of you who have been involved, particularly AIS
sports men and women in those world championships, and those other
events for which you have created world records in some cases.
The main thing in all this is that what a great role model you are for young
Australians. Now, I'm sure that everybody says that to you every time that
one of these events are on, but that's true. And I think it's not just because
you can excel at sport, or win a gold medal, but rather for your character and
your personality. Because I think that if one goes back through the great
sports men and women of this country, the thing that stuck by most of them
and to us as a result is what fine people they have been, and what a great
sense of joy their character has been to the country. And I know that when
Lew Hoad died this year, I wrote to his wife saying how proud she must have
been of Lew, and what a fine ambassador for Australia he had been. And I
mentioned how Pete Sampras had said often that he was inspired by, and
modelled himself, on great Australian players such as Lew Hoad and Rod
Layer. He loved their style, their attitude and their manner the aura they
gave, not simply the medal or the win. And I think that is the point. In fact,
Jenny Hoad wrote me a very nice reply, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind me
relating a little story in the letter she sent back. She said, Lew always felt
totally Australian," and she told me a great story, ' When Low and Jenny had
just married and were living in a housing commission flat in Sydney, the man
living opposite approached Lew one night and told him his wife had just had a
daughter, and would like Lew to be the Godfather, but they couldn't decide on
what to call it. And Lew said, ' Well, I have just seen a great movie, and
there's a good name in the film for a baby call it Shane." And she later
became one of Australia's great sporting heroes Shane Gould. So, it just
shows you that these sporting connections weave the most unlikely stories.

* TEL: 10. Oct. 94 17: 55 No. 018 P. 03,,
But the fact of the matter Is that great sports people do become icons for the*
country not simply sporting icons and the Low Hoads of this world and
other great sports men and women obviously are going to do that as many
of you are now doing. So, could I just say thank you most sincerely for your
efforts in Victoria. It's a great pleasure, I'm sure, for Jim Ferguson and Deek,
and all of the people in AIS who are committed to you, to see these efforts
actually be rewarded, but most particularly, that of course would all go to
nought if it weren't for your grit and determination that instinct to press on
when a lot of things are telling you that time is up. And I think it is that
leadership and that strength and courage, and that strength of conviction
which we all salute. As Australians we all owe you a great debt this is our
most successful Commonwealth Games ever and I am sure on behalf not
simply of those in the ACT but on behalf of the nation in general thank you
sincerely one and all for a great effort for Australia.

Transcript 9376