Sportz Central Facility Opening

24 April 2024



Sportz Central Facility Opening


Coffs Harbour


Wednesday 24 April 2024



Well thank you very much.


I want to thank Uncle Richard for that very thoughtful Welcome to Country.


I could tell you as Australia's Assistant Minister for Trade, that having 60,000 years of Aboriginal history in Australia - the oldest continuous culture on the planet - it is many things for Australia, but I can tell you on the international stage, it is a real national asset.


It makes a difference for the way that Australia is seen in the region and around the world.


I thought that was one of the best welcomes to country I've heard and I'm really glad to hear that the council regularly does that.


I would like to acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues, Pat Conahan and Miss Singh. It's very good to see you both.


I want to make a few comments about this facility. I think as a young fella, which was quite some time ago, I think I used to come down here and play, sport and train in the gym next door.


This new facility looks absolutely beautiful. It really It is absolutely fantastic. And the old saying is that, you know, defeat's an orphan, but success has many parents, and that is true of this facility as well.


The council, basketball and the Federal Government… governments have many shades, and it is the case that this project was funded by both the previous government and this government.


It is also the case that this government has not funded all the projects that were initiated by the previous government. But we funded this one.


We did make an assessment as a government, being really thoughtful and careful about public expenditure, whether it's on infrastructure projects, or community sports projects like this one, and we made sure that the kind of projects that we funded were consistent with what the public would expect.


It was very easy to make the right decision on this project and continue funding it all the way through.


So, as I say, success has many parents. This is the product of, across the political divide, governments of all shades, funding this project and it's easy to see why. It's these people right behind us. Young people playing sport. That's why community sport is so important.


They will make a much greater contribution, I think, to community sport than I ever did. They wouldn't have to try too hard kids to make a bigger contribution than I did to community sport.


And when you think about the role that sport plays in country communities, it is so important.


I saw last week that in Broken Hill the Barrier Daily Truth the local paper has announced that it's closed down. An irony really when some of these social media platforms...

Our newspapers work really hard with local journalists, local television stations, local radio, to tell the stories of local communities. So much of what you see in those local papers is about kids sport and community sport. It's about football matches between country towns. 

That kind of community activity holds country communities together. And it's the volunteers in community sport; the mums and dads, the referees, the club presidents and club secretaries... the thankless work really, that is done by people who have a love of their community and love for their kids and put in big time that make community sport really work.


I know of one; Bronwyn Vigors who was a founding member of the valley over Bellinger Valley Braves and she was their president when she passed away in 2016. I understand one of the local basketball players or basketball challenges; the Bronwyn Vigors Pacific challenge, which brings teams from all over the state, is played right here.


It's very rare, isn't it, that somebody's contribution to community sport is recognized in the way. That is a beautiful thing really. There should be plaques for all the people who contribute to community sport - a proper recognition of that because it really makes a very big difference, and I know Bronwyn made a very big difference in her volunteer work.


I know that there's many other people who make a contribution. It's one of the really lovely things about having the job that I do. There's all of the hard work and stuff that you have to do on behalf of the country and on behalf of your community. But then you come and get to do things like this.


A beautiful facility, where over the coming decades tens of thousands of, not just kids… I imagine they'll let middle aged people stumble around here as well playing indoor soccer or basketball or whatever it is that we're allowed to play as we decline, but tens of thousands of kids will get the benefit of community sport, competing with each other and doing their best.


That is a big contribution. It is a really wonderful thing for me that I get to share in this with you. I hope that you really benefit from this facility and I wish you all the very best.