Tuesday, 20 March 2018
Questions without Notice
Pyeongchang Paralympic Games
I can assure Senator Marshall that there was no irony in that at all. The Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang came to a close on the weekend. Can the minister update the Senate on Australia's achievements at the games?
Thank you, Senator Duniam, for your question and for the non-ironical adjectives associated with it. The 15 amazing athletes that have represented our great nation in South Korea over the past few weeks have all done us exceptionally proud. They've all shown resilience, courage and heart, not only to make it to Pyeongchang but to participate in what for us as a nation has been a highly successful Winter Paralympics campaign.
Sport has the unique ability to unite people in communities and encourages everybody to reach their potential. Our elite athletes such as our Paralympians inspire Australians to have a go and participate in sports at all levels, and I thank them for their contribution to our sporting communities. I would like to congratulate the whole team—led by our chef de mission, Nick Dean—and their coaches and families, for an outstanding performance over the last few weeks. A special mention goes to our medal winners.
Simon Patmore from Nundah in Queensland won Australia's first gold medal in 16 years for the para snowboard cross, and I tell you: we're not bad at surfing in this country and we're not bad at para snowboard cross, or, indeed, anything that looks like surfing on ice. This is a significant achievement both in itself and because he's the first male in Australian sporting history to have won a medal at both the summer and winter Olympic Games. Simon claimed bronze in a 200-metre track event at the London 2012 Summer Paralympic Games. So congratulations, Simon, for an outstanding performance in Pyeongchang.
Melissa Perrine with her sighted guide, Christian Geiger, competed in her third Winter Olympics campaign and won two bronze medals, one in the super combined and one in the giant slalom para alpine skiing event. Melissa narrowly missed out on taking home a third bronze, coming fourth in another event. So congratulations to her for her very strong performance across all those events. We can all acknowledge the importance of the—
They are incredibly inspiring athletes. Our elite athletes inspire and motivate all of us who watch them compete on the international stage. They inspire us not just with their talent but also with their effort, discipline and drive. They motivate us to do our best, whether we're playing A grade or D grade. They motivate us to be more physically active and to improve our own mental and physical health. They also bring us together as a community to cheer and support those representing our nation in the variety of events.
If I can take a point of order against a question asked by the government of one of their own, the minister was asked about funding for Paralympic sports. I know she hasn't yet released the National Sport Plan, but she could at least explain and seek to answer the question she was asked by her own backbencher.
I'm very happy to take that point of order, Senator Farrell, because my next 30 seconds are devoted to telling you what the coalition government has done. Through the Australian Sports Commission, we've provided $15 million to the Australian Paralympic Committee to support the Pyeongchang efforts, $1 million to Ski & Snowboard Australia, and direct grants to our Paralympians to assist them with the cost of becoming an elite athlete.
The Australian Sports Commission recognises and funds eight national sporting organisations for people with a disability. This funding ensures that athletes with a disability have access to high-quality infrastructure, support and opportunities. We also provide a total of over $1.2 million through the ASC to these organisations for participation, aiming to create an inclusive environment and get more Australians with a disability participating in sport more often. Finally, our government is focused on delivering a sports plan developed around key pillars of participation, preventive health through physical activity, integrity and high performance. Grassroots participation in sport and physical activity is a particular priority of the government, given the role it plays in supporting the health and wellbeing of Australians. I'm committed as sports minister to getting more Australians moving more often. This will be outlined in our Sport Plan, which will be presented later.