Monday, 29 July 2019
Private Members' Business
Women in Sport
That this House:
(1) acknowledges the incredible performances of Australia's top athletes in recent times including:
(a) the Matildas reaching the final 16 in the FIFA World Cup;
(b) Ash Barty winning the French Open and acing her way to the top of the world tennis rankings;
(c) Sally Fitzgibbons making waves by winning the 2019 Oi Rio Pro - World Surf League event and surfing her way to the top of the world rankings;
(e) the Hockeyroos reaching the final of the inaugural Women's International Hockey Federation Pro League;
(2) acknowledges the teams that support our athletes including their coaches, managers, physiotherapists, dieticians and their families; and
(3) encourages Australian athletes in upcoming competitions including:
(a) the Australian Diamonds who will be competing in the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England between 12 and 21 July 2019; and
It is my pleasure to move this motion to celebrate some of the extraordinary achievements of our Australian athletes across the last few months. Obviously, as an absolute netball tragic, I have been glued to the television across the World Cup. But netball is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Australian talent being showcased on the international stage. Being passionate about sport and being passionate about women in sport means that I am equally passionate about ensuring that the sporting achievements of our Australian women are acknowledged and celebrated. Hence this motion today. This is not only because our sporting stars deserve kudos for their hard work; it is also that the next generation will follow in their idols' footsteps and begin to play at community level and beyond. So to all those young girls sitting at home today, if they haven't been watching our fabulous international sports stars, I would encourage them to go to their televisions and at least see the replays of the T20 cricket international that is being played at the moment.
In recent times it has been a genuine joy to watch out athletes make their mark in their respective sports—playing with passion, winning and losing with dignity, and, above all, being positive role models for aspiring athletes watching on in admiration. There have been many highlights, including a few that this chamber should acknowledge: the incredible performance of the Matildas, who captivated the nation with their recent World Cup performance; Ash Barty, who aced her way to winning the French Open and the world No. 1 ranking, a pretty good effort from our young Queenslander; Sally Fitzgibbons, who made waves by winning the World Surf League's Rio Pro and surfing her way to the top of the World Cup rankings; Hannah Green, who won the PGA Championship and, in doing so, took home Australia's first major win in a women's golf tournament in over a decade; the Hockeyroos, who played in the final of the inaugural Women's International Hockey Federation Pro League; and our Australian women's cricket team, who have done us proud against our rivals by taking the Ashes series. And a special note to ensure this is recorded in Hansard: congratulations to Elise Perry. She has set a new standard, reaching something that no man or woman has done before in international cricket: 1,000 runs in the T20 international and 100 wickets in the T20 international. Congratulations, Ellyse. It makes me so proud that our Australian sporting heroes are playing out their own dreams on the international stage and that their achievements are being broadcast for the next generation of athletes to idolise and, of course, to be acknowledged.
But, Deputy Speaker Mitchell, you would have noticed that, traditionally, men's sport in this country has enjoyed being acknowledged in this place. Today, this motion is about turning that on its head and ensuring that there is never again an Australian female athlete that is not acknowledged for their determination, their effort and the pride they bring to their country. For too long female athletes have not been on an equal footing with their male counterparts in many regards, including pay equity, broadcast time or national acknowledgement. As we have seen through celebrating the successes of the Australian women athletes mentioned earlier, the time for change has come and we are well and truly ready to embrace women's sport in this country. On that note, I acknowledge one more time in this chamber the fabulous performance from our Australian Diamonds in bringing home silver in the Netball World Cup. And on a personal note, I acknowledge Morgan Mitchell, a young girl from my electorate who's an Australian 400-metre champion and has qualified for the world championships with a personal best in the last seven days.
I'm reminded all the time that you can't be what you can't see. I want to thank all of those athletes, the teams behind those athletes, the coaches, the physios, the managers and the families that get kids up every day to get to their sport for ensuring that we continue in this way to create a healthy Australia and for the things that sport brings to us—teamwork comes to mind as the most important thing, but also a respect for our nutrition and a respect for our health, and, in doing so, ensures that Australia maintains its fabulous record on the world stage, with world champions, silver medallists, bronze medallists and those just getting out there and competing.
It's a pleasure to speak to this motion today. I thank the member for bringing this motion forward. As has been well articulated, Australia has always enjoyed strong and enduring representation in sport, and most recently it's our sportswomen that have led the way and are a testament to our great sporting heritage. Women such as Ash Barty, a proud Queenslander and the first Australian woman to win the French Open in over 46 years; Hannah Green, the first Australian woman in over a decade to take home the Women's PGA Championship trophy; and let's not forget, as was articulated in the motion, the outstanding Matildas on reaching the final 16 in the FIFA World Cup or the Hockeyroos reaching the final of the inaugural women's International Hockey Federation Pro League. In the spirit of cycling—as the cycling season in Europe is in full swing, with the men's Tour de France just finishing—we recently had the women's Tour De France, and once again the Mitchelton-Scott women's team, with a number of Australians in it, has excelled.
Wherever you go, Australian women are making headway in sport and, in doing so, inspiring the next generation of young sporting superstars. Young Australians like Des'ree Barnes from my electorate of Forde. Des'ree is ranked in the top 16 in BMX, and over the weekend competed in the junior elite women's category at the UCI BMX World Championships in Belgium. She's been training at the local Beenleigh BMX Club for the past 10 years and is benefiting from a local club that is working hard to encourage women into sport. Beenleigh BMX plans to have programs for women run by women and to bring on more female coaches to foster the development of women's participation in BMX.
Sport, then, is perhaps the greatest unifier of our time, which is why I always feel a great sense of pride in my local sporting clubs, because, when I look out onto the field, the cricket pitch, the netball court or the racetrack, I see people from all walks of life coming together for a shared purpose and a shared goal. They come together often as a team to share a special moment when nothing in the world matters except for what is in front of them, because at that moment they are united by a shared desire to win. That is the power of sports. But what happens off the field is just as important as what happens on the field, because not only does sport help build stronger athletes but it also builds stronger communities.
At Beenleigh Buffaloes, sport is a community of friends where people can go and help each other where necessary and a community that unites behind great causes. In June, Beenleigh Buffaloes and the Coolangatta Football Club held the inaugural ACFC Manning Up Cup Day. The match was an opportunity to break down the stigma of men's mental health issues and raise funds for a chance for change. Just last week, the under-16 team opted out of training to give back to their community by volunteering with the Movement Gold Coast Homeless Outreach. They helped serve food, tea and coffee and assisted with giving out clothing and blankets. But, most importantly, they did this as a team, as a united community with a shared desire to help others. I am sure it was a rewarding experience for the players which will only help them to grow stronger.
It just shows that clubs like Beenleigh Buffaloes are also great champions in women's sport. Over the past six years, they've always had a women's team. In fact, one of their players, Tori, has been drafted by the Brisbane Lions and has previously represented the All-Australian team two years in a row. Also, Georgie has been involved with the Gold Coast Suns summer academy. It is exciting to see players across my electorate advance and develop within their sports, and it is a great reminder for young people, particularly young women, to have sporting aspirations and goals. It is why it's important for our local clubs to encourage more women to play sport. That is why I am so excited by the programs that this coalition government has brought forward to improve the quality of facilities for women's sports across clubs in my electorate.
They say that you can't be what you can't see, and I couldn't be happier for young girls around Australia, who are today blessed with a multitude of female athletes at the very top of their sports. The Matildas had us up all night watching them at the World Cup in France, led by an electric Sam Kerr, who was recently named best international woman footballer for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, Sally Fitzgibbons has been dominating a sport that's hugely popular in my electorate of Newcastle, fighting at the top of surfing's world rankings in a tight duel with Carissa Moore. Last month, Ash Barty became No. 1 in the world in women's tennis, the first Australian woman to do so since fellow Indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley topped the WTA rankings in 1976. Forty-three years is a long time to wait, but the honour of being ranked No. 1 in the world couldn't have gone to a more deserving athlete. Congratulations, Ash. Then there's Hannah Green, who broke Australia's 13-year drought to become the third Australian woman to win a golf major, and our women's eight crew that won gold at the World Rowing Cup. I was thrilled to watch the Wallaroos open their test season with a 34-5 victory over Japan at Newcastle's No. 2 Sportsground earlier this month. Hundreds of young female rugby players from their local clubs watched from the sidelines in awe, as did many of the men's rugby clubs and fans from across the region.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say how proud we are of our Australian Netball Diamonds, who suffered a heartbreaking one-point loss to the Silver Ferns last week in the World Cup final. But they can, of course, hold their heads high. They remain absolute champions. As a member of the parliamentary netball team along with my colleague the member for Lalor here, I can say we're used to losses to our Kiwi sisters—although, truth be told, it's not usually within a point.
While these superstars deserve all the credit they get, it's important that we also acknowledge the teams that support all the athletes: the coaches, managers, nutritionists, families, friends and fans. What these elite athletes have proven is that there is a growing audience hungry for women's sport. Increased formal support will lead to increased success at all levels. In a world where equal pay between genders in sport is always argued in terms of commercial investment and market size, these Australian women are overdelivering and outgrowing expectations. As Karina Keisler of Cricket Australia recently argued in The Sydney Morning Herald:
Saying players shouldn't be paid because they don't bring in the money is punishing them for historical under-investment.
More and more Australians are turning to women's sport, captivated by both talent and spirit. Indeed, a Nielson survey last year found that Aussies were tuning in to women's sport because they found it more inspiring than the men's equivalent. State-of-the-art facilities are becoming available, and I am pleased that there is bipartisan support around the construction of a multimillion dollar investment for a new permanent home for our Matildas.
But I look forward to the day when the Matildas don't have to deliver pizza or drive an Uber to make ends meet while playing professional football. Australian women are flying high in their chosen sports; they should be getting paid properly, too. Investing in women's sport can only deliver a greater return, giving women athletes more goals to kick, more boundaries to clear, more stadiums to pack and more prime TV slots to fill. If we back in our women athletes with a better commitment to gender equality in everything we do in sport then we will succeed time and time again. Then we can keep watching as young girls today sitting in the stands, watching at home or picking up a ball, board or racquet do exactly the same.
There will be many opportunities for further glory in the coming weeks and months, but nor now I want to give a big shout-out to the Australian 4x200 metres and 4x100 metres women's relay teams for winning gold at the swimming world championships. Indeed, one of those teams set a new world record. Next year, the Australian women's cricket team will compete at home in the T20 World Cup—and the world will be watching. Cricket has taken great strides towards greater pay equity recently, and I have no doubt that further sporting success will follow. With six out of every 10 Aussie kids taking up cricket today being female, the investment has already paid off. Success breeds success. I couldn't be prouder of all the female athletes currently smashing records and expectations worldwide.
That is why the Morrison Liberal government should be investing in local grassroots sporting projects, like the redevelopment of the No. 1 sports ground in Newcastle, so we can host women's cricket matches in regional cities like Newcastle, and the construction of competition-standard indoor netball courts for the Newcastle Netball Association. That is where it all starts. It is time we take gender parity in Australian sport seriously. (Time expired)
They were good remarks from the other side. I thank the member for them. This speech probably should have been given last week because, unfortunately, last week in the netball our Australian Diamonds were defeated by one goal by the Silver Ferns—one miserable goal. Maxwell Smart would say, 'I missed it by that much.' That is a tough way to lose a final. Let me tell them how proud we are of them. I'll come back to the Diamonds in just a moment. Perhaps there was a little justice in that given New Zealand's men's cricket team had lost the men's Cricket World Cup on a countback. I don't think any of us who watch cricket actually realised what a countback was! But that's what happened.
Australia has a small population, but there is no doubt that we punch above our weight when it comes to sport. Like all, I celebrate our male athletes and competitors, but at this point in time I reckon it would be fair to say they are being eclipsed by their female counterparts. How proud we all are of Ash Barty, the world's No. 1 female tennis player and French Open champion—and what a gracious champion she is. She is, indeed, someone of whom we can all be justifiably proud. I wish her—as I am sure everyone in this place and everyone in Australia does—more success. But let me say this: Ash, you have already achieved so much and brought such joy to the hearts of Australians.
We marvel at the achievements of some of our other prominent sportswomen. Hannah Green just won the 2019 Women's PGA Championship. Sally Fitzgibbons is the world No. 1 surfer. There's Ellyse Perry at the Women's Cricket World Cup. And, boy, what about Meg Lanning's 133 not out off 63 balls, breaking her previous world record for T20 cricket? To paraphrase our Prime Minister: how good are they? It's a wonderful time and we should be proud of them.
But I want to come back to the Diamonds. They probably weren't celebrating as hard as perhaps they should have last week, having lost that World Cup by just a single point. We send our commiserations. But they should celebrate because they were in the World Cup final. They were all but the World Cup victors; it will make them go harder next time, I know. But we are all incredibly proud of them.
There is one particular person in that Diamond's line up that I want to focus on today, a young defender called Sarah Klau. Sarah Klau plays for the Sydney Swifts, but she comes from Yorketown on Yorke Peninsula, in my electorate of Grey. She is the only South Australian product in the Diamond's line up at this time. I might add that Jenny Kennett, a former captain of that team, came from Cummins on the Eyre Peninsula, not so far away from where I live. But Sarah is our girl at the moment. That in itself is a cause for Yorketown to celebrate. We always celebrate when we have our own people rise to international success.
But we have an even greater reason to celebrate Sarah's success, because she was diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes within the last 12 months. It's tough enough to get into the Diamonds when you're fit and healthy, but when you've actually got type 1 diabetes and having to deal with that on a constant basis—you can imagine that if you're an athlete you have to monitor your body at probably a far higher frequency than the rest of us would.
It's no secret that the member for Moreton and I are the co-chairs of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Diabetes, the oldest 'friends of' group in this parliament. It was founded by Judi Moylan, I think back in 2002. The member for Moreton and I have renamed it: we are the parliamentary enemies of diabetes. We don't particularly want to be friends of diabetes! But I am immensely proud of what the government has done in this place, with clinical trials, constant glucose monitors and a raft of other things that have made life for diabetics that much better. Certainly, there is the money we are investing in research.
One of our jobs is to invigorate people to pump up their tyres so that they're up to the challenge of meeting diabetes type 1 or type 2 head-on, to take it on and to say, 'I'm going to manage my life so that I can manage my ailment.' We'll do our best to inspire people, but we'll be a pale shadow of what someone like Sarah Klau can do. What she sends as a message to everybody suffering from diabetes is that you can succeed; you can manage your ailment. You can manage this disease and you can excel at whatever you choose to do. I know that for some people it becomes a burden, but I thank her and congratulate her for her efforts.
I am really pleased to speak on this motion. I want to thank the member for Lalor for moving this motion in the House today.
It is important that we celebrate women's sport, and it's important, particularly, that we celebrate the achievements which women undertake in sport, given some of the barriers they face. We all know the barriers that women face when it comes to pay equity in sport. We all know, as the other two members have pointed out, that a lot of women who play elite sport in this country take on a second job to pay the bills. They cannot focus just on their sport, unlike some of the men in this country who get very well paid for participating in elite sport at the highest level. We need to do much, much more in this country when it comes to pay equity for Australian sporting champions, particularly female sporting champions.
But we do have a lot to celebrate. As we heard from the previous member, the Diamonds are doing very well on the world stage. We have, though, so many other achievements that have occurred just in the last few weeks. I want to give an example of one week in June where we had, of course, Ash Barty winning her third tournament of the year and becoming No. 1. I understand that she is only the second Australian woman to ever achieve world No. 1, after Evonne Goolagong-Cawley.
We had the Oi Rio Pro surf event, with Sally Fitzgibbons securing the No. 1 ranking. We had golfer Hannah Green winning the women's PGA championship in Minnesota. And at the World Rowing Cup, the Australian women's eight crew won gold. That was all just in one week of Australian women overseas participating in sport at the very highest level.
But, of course, what it does, as we've heard, is to inspire other women and girls to participate in sport, and we're seeing increasing participation in sport at the grassroots level. We talk in this country about being active and preventive health a lot, but nothing is better for preventive health than getting people involved in local sport, particularly some of the team sports.
I was disappointed as to the federal election. During the campaign, I made a commitment on behalf of this side of the House to invest in local women's sport—this time, in round-ball football, soccer, or however people want to call it, at one of the largest football clubs in Tasmania. They have had an increasing number of female participants, and they need new clubrooms for women and for girls to continue their participation in the sport. It's becoming a problem right across the board. What we need to see from the government is strategic investments in local sporting organisations at the grassroots level, to allow these women and girls to actually participate in their chosen sport. So we need to do a lot, both at the grassroots level and at the elite level.
There is so much more to do to encourage women and girls to participate in sport, but it really seems to be working. As we heard from the member from Newcastle, we're starting to get a bit more television airtime. The media are starting to take notice. The public are voting with their feet. They're turning up at stadiums to watch AFL champions. They're turning up at tennis to watch our champions. They're turning up all over the country to watch women participate in sport. They are turning up in droves. But we need to make sure that we encourage women at all levels of sport to participate, and there is so much more that needs to be done.
I want to mention a few other wonderful Australians. The Diamonds have been mentioned, but I also want to mention, as a cricket fan and as co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Cricket, the Australian women's Ashes team and to congratulate them on retaining the Ashes. I hope the men do just as well and get the Ashes for us in the men's Ashes. But the women have been particularly good, and they've set the standard over in England. We of course have had Samantha Kerr, Captain of the Matildas, and her hat-trick at the FIFA World Cup. And it would be remiss of me not to mention a young Tasmanian, Ariarne Titmus, who out-swum the world champion, Katie Ledecky, in the 400 metres in the World Swimming Championships, and she comes home with a couple of gold medals but also, importantly, a world record.
The last few weeks have been an incredible time in women's sport. It shows that women can achieve at every level, right across this country. But they need our support. They need it at the grassroots community level. They need it at the elite level. They need encouragement to participate. And they need to know that, when they get there, we'll support them in access to training, in access to physiotherapists—in access to all of the things that their male counterparts get, including equal pay.
Thank you to the member for Lalor for bringing forward this timely motion. Our female athletes are on top of the world right now and are taking out title after title at events around the world. It seems there isn't a court, a field, a fairway, a pool or a wave that is safe from our women athletes and teams. There's been a lot of commentary in the media that we are entering a new age in women's sports, and this is hard to deny.
Ash Barty has been incredible with her win at the French Open and her grace as she claimed the world's No. 1—a grace she shared with Evonne Goolagong, also an Indigenous woman. The Matildas didn't go as far in the World Cup as we might have liked them to, but they beat the world's top teams, and their class shone through. Our women's cricket team is continuing to dominate the world, smashing England—how sweet that is!—overnight in the Ashes in a way which will hopefully provide inspiration to the men's team ahead of their tournament next week. Where controversy has followed our men's team, our great competitors in the women's team have not only risen above but have shown how united teams playing together are hard, if not impossible, to beat. And who can forget that wonderful morning recently when Australians woke up to the news not only of the victories of Ash Barty and our Matildas but also of Hannah Green's victory in the PGA Championship and Sally Fitzgibbons's great result at the World Surf League?
These are great stories, and we are right to celebrate them loudly and proudly. But I take issue with one small part of recent reporting—that is, that this great string of results is somehow unprecedented.
When I was starting out in my tennis career I had the great fortune to train with Margaret Court a year before she took out the Grand Slam in 1970—she must have got confidence from beating me regularly—and I was able to enjoy her extraordinary talents firsthand. She is the champion we remember, but it's important to note that she was a contemporary of many other great women tennis players, including Judy Tegart, who holds nine Grand Slam doubles championships and was a finalist in the first Wimbledon open, and Lesley Turner Bowrey, who did something that Margaret Court or Billie Jean King couldn't do: she beat Margaret Court and Billie Jean King to win the French Open in 1965. Ash Barty's rise to No. 1 has brought up memories of the last time an Australian woman was there: the great Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.
On a smaller court, the name Heather McKay isn't one known by many people, but she has a justifiable claim to being Australia's greatest-ever sportsperson. Between 1962 and 1977, she won the British squash open, the pinnacle of the sport, 16 consecutive times, dropping only two sets—not two matches; just two sets—in that time. She was undefeated in competitive squash for over 20 years. This sort of domination in sport is unprecedented.
Back in Bennelong, we were the home of the great 'Ermington Flash', Australia's second highest medallist winner behind Ian Thorpe: the great Betty Cuthbert, who to this day is the only person in history to win Olympic gold in the 100, 200 and 400 metre sprints, a record she has held since the 1960s and a record beyond Usain Bolt and countless other sprinters around the world. I could go on; we have a huge list of great sportswomen that I could talk about for much longer than the time allotted. Greats like Dawn Fraser, Libby Trickett and Shirley Strickland demonstrate the great depth we have in women's sports.
Recent months have seen incredible performances from the likes of Ash Barty, our women's cricket teams and countless others, but they are not unprecedented. Australia has a proud history in sporting success across genders, and we should be rightly proud of this. What is wonderful today is that these victories are visible, that they are being celebrated and that their influence to grassroots is being nourished. The real victory here is in the growing number of girls playing sport. This is great for our health, our society and our community. How good are our Australian sportswomen!
Australia is a proud sporting nation. That sporting story would not be possible without women. In recent weeks as a nation we've celebrated their achievements across a range of sports from tennis, netball and cricket to hockey, swimming and sailing and many others. Just over a month ago, as Ash Barty became tennis world No. 1 following her success in the French Open and the Birmingham Classic, Hannah Green, ranked 144th in the world, won the Women's PGA Championship in Minnesota in the USA—the third Australian woman ever to win a golfing major. But we need to recognise lots and lots of other women. There were two more fantastic achievements: the Australian Diamonds winning the silver medal at the Netball World Cup, and the Australian women's cricket team retaining the Ashes. Over the weekend, the Australian women's captain, Meg Lanning, broke her own record for the highest score in a T20 international match. Last night, Ellyse Perry became the first cricketer of either gender to score a thousand runs and take a hundred wickets in international T20 matches—quite an achievement. I'm sure the women's team's form will inspire the men to win the Ashes as well—well, it better!
If you can see it, you can do it. These achievements provide, aspirations, dreams and role models to tomorrow's sporting champions. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, throughout the year, the parks and courts across Werriwa are bustling with young Australians learning the value of competition and fair play. Those values carry on through all aspects of their lives and are important to who we are as Australians. Those courts, fields, tracks, waterways and roads are where the talent you see at events like the Olympic Games, the Winter Olympic Games, international matches and grand finals is fostered. These kids are often living out their dreams of their heroes on television.
We must give young women and girls across this country visibility of just how successful this country is in women's sport. Without that visibility, the moments in the backyard and on grand final day are lost. Those moments give birth to our sporting heroes. Unfortunately for women, this is extremely difficult. Despite the amazing successes across many sports for many years, women's sport rarely receives the mainstream coverage that men's sport does. When I see boys and girls together on the playing fields throughout my electorate, they're playing with equality. But when I see the sponsorships and mainstream media coverage of women's sport, it is really disheartening. It's not just the women competitors who are their own and our own sporting heroes; it's the mums, guardians, administrators, referees and other officials who are the lifeblood of our local sporting clubs and the unsung heroes of our national sporting culture.
One such example is the South West Tigers Junior Australian Football Club, based in the suburb of West Hoxton within my electorate. Last month I had the privilege of being invited to the Tigers to acknowledge and honour female participation in AFL for their special Women in Footy round. This was about recognising not just the women who play but those who coach, manage or umpire, who participate in committees and who give their free time to volunteer around the club on game day, and, needless to say, the thousands upon thousands of mums everywhere in this country driving kids to games and training, and making sure their uniforms are washed and ready. I thank the South West Tigers for inviting me to speak at the event. I especially enjoyed speaking to the women umpires. I found that their motivations, and, I'm sure, those of most other officials, were similar to the reason I started refereeing—a willingness to put back into the sport they loved. I also acknowledge the Matavai Pacific Cultural Arts performers, who provided a splendid dance presentation. I saw both of the South West Tigers Youth Girls teams play, and I wish them all the best for the season.
At all levels of sport, from local to national and international, women are vital to this country's sporting success. They are the people who create the opportunities for all young Australians and deliver the help that our professional sportspeople deserve. Australian women in sport need equal pay, conditions, access to training, sports medicine, media time and mentoring opportunities. Many of Australia's national women sporting leagues are amongst the best paid in the world, but we can, and must, do better. I congratulate our male cricketers, who, when negotiating the last players contract, fought to ensure that all cricketers, both male and female, received better conditions, and held out until this was achieved. We must salute and celebrate all women involved in sport, competitors or not, and their achievements and contributions to the achievements of all Australian sportspeople.
I am delighted to speak on this motion today, and I thank the member for Lalor for proposing it to the House. Like the member for Lalor, I am passionate about women's sport, especially netball. The member for Lalor and I had a good chat about the Netball World Cup series early in the morning, after we had just lost to New Zealand by the most narrow of margins; I will say more a little later about the incredible performances that we saw from our netballers.
First, I would like to acknowledge the incredible performances of our Australian female athletes in recent months in the global sporting arena. I congratulate tennis champion Ash Barty on her spectacular efforts this year: reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, winning the French Open 6-1, 6-3 and progressing to the fourth round at Wimbledon. Ash has retained her No. 1 ranking, which is absolutely wonderful for our nation. She is an inspiration to all Australians, but particularly to tennis-playing women around the nation. We have also seen strong performances this year from the Matildas at the FIFA Women's World Cup and from the Hockeyroos at the Women's International Hockey Federation Pro League. I would also like to congratulate surfing champion Sally Fitzgibbons for her success at the 2019 Oi Rio Pro and golfer Hannah Green, who recently took home Australia's first major win in a women's golf tournament in over a decade at the Women's PGA Championship. Our international women's cricket team has been hitting sixes to win the multiformat Women's Ashes.
These are all fantastic results, but, of course, my personal passion is netball. I want to congratulate the Samsung Australian Diamonds netball team on an outstanding Netball World Cup, even though they lost the grand final by one goal to our great netball foes and rivals, the New Zealand Silver Ferns. I watched almost every single Diamonds match this World Cup except for the grand final, which, unfortunately, was broadcast at 1 am because it was being played in the UK, and it was therefore a little early in the morning for me to be awake at the start of a parliamentary sitting week. What I can say is that every single game I saw was testament to the skill, strength and character of our netballers, and the matches were some of the best that I have ever seen. The very close scores in the finals demonstrated how talented netballers from around the globe are, particularly those netballers in England, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The close results in all of the finals demonstrated that we are, in fact, at a peak moment in competitive netball internationally.
These women are inspiring other women and girls to have a go in each and every sport you can play in our nation. I know that in my local community, in my electorate of Boothby, so many women of every age are having a go at so very many different sports: netball, hockey, tennis, lacrosse, baseball, basketball, soccer and, increasingly, cricket, footy, rugby, swimming, sailing, croquet and even bowls. As you can see, I have a very active electorate.
There has been a huge increase in female participation across all codes but particularly in Aussie Rules football, rugby, soccer and cricket. Unfortunately, investment in change room facilities has not kept up with this rapid growth, so I've worked very hard since being elected as the member for Boothby to see this situation rectified. I've supported new club room and change room facilities, particularly to help support women's participation at the Flagstaff Community Centre, Hewett Reserve, Blackwood Footy Club, the Brighton Oval precinct—which supports a number of different clubs—Glenelg Footy Club, Glenelg Baseball Club, Price Memorial Oval, Kingswood Oval and Mortlock Park. These upgrades will support female footy players, cricketers, netballers, soccer players, tennis players, runners, lacrosse players and baseballers, and many of these upgrades are already in progress. For example, just a few weeks ago I visited the Blackwood Football Club to see their new change rooms installed. The additional change rooms will help cater for the 25 teams that the club currently has in the competition, including eight women's teams, which is really exciting. I also recently visited the Brighton Oval precinct to help turn the sod on the start of the $13 million redevelopment, which will deliver brand-new club rooms and change rooms including for women so that the lacrosse, cricket, football and rugby clubs can continue to grow. Player numbers are also growing at the Brighton Lacrosse Club, where I recently attended their annual Ladies of Lacrosse day, which celebrated the female players.
It's a pleasure to speak to this motion moved by the member for Lalor. Everywhere you look right now, Australian women are kicking goals on the international sporting stage. Ash Barty won the French Open and is ranked No. 1 in the world, and golfer Hannah Green won the Women's PGA Championship. The Hockeyroos made the final of the International Hockey Federation Pro League, the Australian women's cricket team have just won the Ashes led by captain Meg Lanning, and the Matildas, who I love to watch when they play in Penrith, reached the final 16 in the FIFA World Cup, while our Netball Diamonds fought hard in the Netball World Cup. That's just a sample of the things women are doing on the international stage. In my own electorate of Macquarie, we have extraordinary women who are role-modelling how to be elite athletes and performers. Jessica Fox, canoe slalom Olympic medallist, is preparing for Tokyo, and Amanda Spratt, road racing cyclist, has been really making her mark in Europe in the last month.
So I want to congratulate all these women for their sporting achievements, and I also want to congratulate them for something else: for the impact they are having on the next generation of girls and women who are coming behind them. When we scroll through Facebook or Instagram, listen to the radio or watch TV, we are now seeing these phenomenal women and their achievements, their strength and their discipline all around us. It isn't just the blokes in the limelight now. Ladies, well done. You're inspiring girls and women right across the country.
We know the benefits for girls of playing sport. The Hon Dame Quentin Bryce summed it up really well:
Girls worldwide who play sport are more likely to attend and stay in school, more likely to finish their education, more likely to be in better health and earn higher wages during the course of their lives.
It has such important benefits, not just that sense of achievement when you do actually win. Locally I acknowledge the great work of Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury sporting clubs in their efforts to make girls sporting competitions run and grow. This is where it all starts. These clubs are contributing to something much bigger than their local competition. As a parent I see how important those comps are for young girls especially in the teenage years—not just an opportunity to work as a team, to learn about fair play and to learn about losing but a chance to develop friendships outside the school environment, creating another support network for our teenagers. We need to continue to harness the momentum coming from these local clubs and from the success of Australian women on the national and international stages.
And we do need to invest. More money needs to go into this sector. Time alone will not do this. I think there's a long way to go, though, for women to be as respected as men in the sporting world. I'm not just talking about the enormous pay gap that most sports still face or the second jobs that women have to take in order to fund their sport. A photo taken of Tayla Harris kicking the opening goal in an AFL match highlighted her impeccable athleticism, but the response didn't reflect that. The response from some was misogynistic and highly sexualised. Instead of seeing a woman in her workplace at the top of her game, laying a path for girls in sport for generations to come, literally kicking a goal, some people saw an opportunity to attack her—and didn't they do just that! I take this opportunity to congratulate the AFL, the AFL community and Tayla Harris herself for the response. It turned what could have been another far-too-common instance of a woman being trolled online into a pivotal moment where those people were called out for their disgusting behaviour, and a conversation was had about women in sport and what treatment they should expect. The conversation wasn't just had in a boardroom with a small group of people who cared; it was on the front pages and on primetime TV.
While there is a way to go for equality in the sporting arena, looking at women like Mo Hope, Sam Kerr, Ash Barty, Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Emily Smith, Caitlin Bassett, Hannah Green and Sally Fitzgibbons, thanks to the professionalism that they show I'm very confident about the future of women's sport. There's one thing I'd add: none of it would be possible without the incredible support that they have from coaches, managers, physios, dietitians and of course their families. We need to make sure all those groups stay strong and can support us to continue to achieve in women's sport.
I thank the member for Lalor for this motion. It's important that we acknowledge the efforts of individuals. I think of Margaret Court, when she first played, and I watched her play in many of those elite high-level games of tennis across the world, particularly Wimbledon; of Evonne Goolagong, when she played and beat Margaret Court, and the sense of pride that you have in two significant Australians at that part of our life; and then, more recently, of Sam Kerr and many others.
But I also want to turn our minds to the young women in our electorates who are starting the pathway to a direction that will give them an opportunity was denied so many years ago to women in sport. I consider the Swan Districts Football Club, which I'm associated with, and their women's football team, building the capacity of those women to play in a competition that they love, supported by the Hills Football Association, again giving young women the opportunity and watching them go on to be part of an AFL team and operate at the elite levels.
Then I think of baseball, softball, and T-ball—young girls starting a journey being encouraged to demonstrate their capacity to reach the elite level of sport, because it is at that level that we need to nurture, we need to encourage and we need to build and instil a confidence that we as a nation will give as much attention to our young women in sport as we used to give to males. I think we've seen this quantum shift, given the successes of the Matildas, and many of our other international competitors in national sports—for example, swimming at the Olympics.
Each time I meet someone who has reached that elite level, I'm taken aback by the humility that they often show. I met with the Paralympic team. The women in that team had hopes and aspirations, which, with support, they were able to achieve. They were at a standard and a level that encouraged them to move beyond the restrictions of what they saw as barriers. We've removed many of those barriers.
I also want to acknowledge the people who are doing the coaching, the people who encourage young women to take that journey and, equally, the very elite coaches who dedicate time to refining the skills. It was absolutely tremendous watching Ash Barty play with calmness and poise. She had that killer instinct to win while also being gracious. I loved the fact that when she lost she said: 'It's a game. I enjoyed it.' That is a great quality that is important to have.
Women in sport are continuing to excel. Our coalition government is making funding available for change rooms for women in sporting clubs. This will help provide the women with the same opportunities that men have—unique structures and infrastructure that makes them comfortable. In my own electorate, there were two clubs that came and saw me and said: 'The women don't shower after the games. They've got to go home. We want to give them something to allow them to be part of the camaraderie of our sporting facility and our club, and allow them to be an equal part of the journey of the males within our club.'
That shift is a quantum shift, and it is because of the programs that we put into place. But, equally, as members in this place, we can take a leadership role in influencing the way in which people think about providing young women with every opportunity to excel. I met a young archer who came from Western Australia, who played with an old bow and the arrows were second-hand. She competed in a national competition, because we provided those sporting scholarships. She went away, came over to the east, competed in Sydney and won the event. Part of the prize was an elite bow and arrow outfit that made it easier for her in some of the national competitions.
Women who compete in equestrian events are being encouraged, not only in dressage, because it is important that we give that level of support. I would strongly recommend that we continue to support our women, and I thank the member for Lalor for this opportunity to recognise the competencies and skills of our women in their sporting adventures and in what they achieve.