Topics: Opening of the Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre
Thanks very much to Giaan, to the Premier, to Kate, to Tom looking resplendent in leather – it’s a Gold Coast thing I’m told – to our former Premiers in Peter Beattie and Rob Borbidge. It’s not just friendship after politics, I think it’s particularly after politics!
And of course to all of our sports enthusiasts whether at the younger, the middle aged or the older bracket, who are looking forward to the Commonwealth Games.
I want to reserve though a special welcome and thanks to John and all of the Indigenous communities represented here today.
Particularly the young people, our young dancers, who bring together both culture and a love of sport. And that really brings me to where I want to go today. I want to talk briefly about Indigenous sport, sport within Australia and how this all comes together in the Commonwealth Games.
In terms of Indigenous sport, it’s been an outlet for Indigenous Australia and a means through which young Indigenous Australians can aspire to be their best selves.
We think of the breakthroughs from people such as Lionel Rose and Polly Farmer and Michael Long, Nova Peris, the incredible achievements of Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and of course the great Cathy Freeman.
And sport has been a means for Indigenous Australians to achieve, to be their best selves and to give hope and inspiration for their own people.
It’s arguable with Giaan as to what the greatest sporting moment in Australian history has been in the pantheon. But for me, I don’t think there’s any greater moment than, with all of the pressure of the 2000 Games, Cathy Freeman cresting that line.
A young Indigenous woman who was the face of the Games. With one moment when she had to succeed and she had only that moment, and in that cauldron, with all that impossible pressure, she achieved something which will last for 100 years in Australia, and that spoke to everybody.
And sport has that same role for everybody in Australia.
And for young people, whether it’s in a back street – we recently met in Canberra the homeless Australian soccer team. And The Big Issue has been doing work, giving people who were really in the most difficult of circumstances a sense of hope and a sense of outlet and a sense of achievement through sport. And they were able to aspire and to lift themselves to a new place.
And so, yes it’s about health, and yes it’s about exercise. But it’s about something much more than that, the ability to aspire and the ability to be your best selves and the ability to have a sense of pride. And that relates to mental health and wellbeing as well as to physical health.
And that brings me to the Gold Coast. Tom, I have to confess, along with the Premier, I noticed the colour. It’s a little hard to miss. But it speaks to the Gold Coast, it speaks to the Games and it speaks to the aspiration. And these games, Peter, are going to be a success. I have no doubt about that.
I was speaking last night to the vice-president of WADA and we were talking with each other about the Games, about the quality of testing. And the fact that the international sports community is pinning its hopes and aspirations for these Games to be a pinnacle and just a beacon to world sport, and I think that will be the case.
So, it’s all about the exercise and about the achievement and about the aspiration.
But the facilities – and here, Rob, your work is immensely important – will be here for generations and generations. And they will be something which young Australians, older Australians, people of all ages, can use and participate in.
So it’s a great achievement. Our job as the Commonwealth is to contribute to that and we have. Nowhere have we contributed more than to the Sports and Leisure Centre here. But it’s not about the funds, it’s all about the fact that this will be a legacy for generations to come.
It would make a great place, Premier, for a 2028 Olympic Games. We can talk about that afterwards, but I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
But anyway, I am delighted to officially, on behalf of the Commonwealth, congratulate the community, congratulate the Gold Coast on the Sports and Leisure Centre. Well done.