House debates

Monday, 26 September 2022

Questions without Notice

PacificAus Sports

3:00 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific. How are the Albanese Labor government's Pacific sporting programs improving Australia's Pacific relationships and supporting Pacific aspirations?

3:01 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Moreton for his excellent question. There is no greater champion of sport in this place than the member for Morton. If there's a parliamentary sport to be played, he is there.

Sport brings the Pacific together. It's symbolic of our shared values, our history and our people-to-people connections. Some people in this House might have thought the most important sporting event of the weekend was in Melbourne on Saturday night. But, sadly, they are wrong. The most important sporting event was the Prime Minister's XXIII games in Brisbane last night between the Australian and PNG women's and men's teams. It was a great night. Prime Ministers Albanese and Marape were there, along with six PNG ministers and Minister Wells and I. The Leader of the Opposition was also there, and I thank him for his presence, demonstrating the bipartisan commitment in this place to the Pacific.

Prior to that game I had the privilege of announcing $2.3 million in funding to support the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League high-performance strategy. This is all about growing and empowering rugby league in the Pacific, and in Papua New Guinea in particular. It's all about generating the next Justin Olam and the next Elsie Albert, to bring them on into the rugby league competition. This is an example of the broader support for Pacific sports within this government, started by the Keating government in 1994 and now continued under the $15 million per annum PacificAus Sports program. This supports the most popular sports in the Pacific—netball, rugby league, rugby union and football—throughout the six nations of PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga. It's all about using sport to improve the lives of people and especially to empower women and girls.

Sports brings the Pacific family together. You just have to watch the joy of the Fijian Drua team when they won the women's Super Pacific Rugby cup. It was evident last night, when I'm sad to say 95 per cent of the crowd was going for Papua New Guinea! And it will be evident on Sunday night coming up, where we see Penrith play Parramatta in the NRL grand final, where 50 per cent of NRL players are of Pasifika origin. That's great for our country and it's great for the region. Sports cooperation or sports diplomacy brings the Pacific together. It's a critical part of Australia's engagement with the Pacific, it's a critical advantage we have in remaining the partner of choice for the Pacific family, and it was great to see Prime Ministers Marape and Albanese there last night, celebrating Pacific sports together.

3:04 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

On indulgence, Mr Speaker, just quickly: I want to thank the minister for his answer and thank him for the recognition of what was a very significant event last night. Obviously, he's a Sydney Swans supporter, which is why he was happy to move on from the other event on the weekend—for some reason he didn't like that game! Last night was a celebration of the friendship between our two countries and there is no more important period in history where our two countries need to come together, and James Marape is a particularly dear friend of our country. Bryan Kramer and other ministers were there last night, and we've worked very closely with all of them over a long period of time. The fact that our Prime Minister has extended an opportunity for Prime Minister Marape to travel with him to Tokyo for Mr Abe's funeral is to be recognised as well. The depth of the friendship is necessary. And through sport, as the minister points out, it is a common language and an opportunity for us to develop and grow even further the relationship between our two countries. It was a great night. It was a little one-sided by about 70 to four in the results in each of the games, but, nonetheless, it was a celebration of a great friendship.