Women's Sporting Events

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:24 :07 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for the Status of Women a question about women's sporting events.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: I was interested to read in yesterday's Advertiser that South Australia will create a new major sporting event to boost tourism, nurture trading relationships and showcase local talent. In particular, the move will supposedly capitalise on Asia's growing love of and interest in sport. Premier Weatherill, when speaking about the pledge, was adamant about clearly targeting certain events. He said:

Instead of going for a premium, existing international event…we might create a new event [and] instead of a major, tier 1 event, you might go for, say, a women's event.

I do not assert to be a sporting guru but most South Australians, I am sure, have heard of the Hockeyroos: a decorated field hockey team, five time winners of the Australian Team of the Year, two World Cups, three Commonwealth Games gold medals and six championship trophies are just a few of the team's honours. They have also earned three Olympic gold medals and unanimously won the title of the Best Australian Team at the 2000 Olympics. A small detail—they are women.

The Australian Netball Diamonds are the national team that was crowned world champions 10 times. They have won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games since the organisation's first international match in 1938. They are widely considered one of the most successful netball teams in the world—also women. If you are not into team sports, how about swimming? In Australia's Olympic history, nine of the nation's 10 top medal winners have been swimmers—five of them women. My questions to the minister are:

1.Does the minister support the Premier's assertion that female sport does not classify as 'top tier'?

2.How does diminishing the status of female athletes, in comparison to their male counterparts, support the objective of making South Australia an appealing place to visit or invest?

3.Does the minister believe that the Premier's comments will be helpful in nurturing trade relations with China and other countries where a great deal of people involved in those trade deals are likely to be women?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:26 :07 ): I thank the honourable member for his questions. Indeed, we are incredibly fortunate to have as Premier the Hon. J. Weatherill who is a strong advocate for women and the advancement of women and, in particular, removing barriers that exist at all levels of our society that operate in a way—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister has the floor.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: They operate in such a way that women are not able to reach their full potential. The Premier is very much aware of that and is a very strong champion for women. Indeed, I agree with the Hon. David Ridgway that we have many areas right across society where women make a significant contribution, particularly in sport. However, as I said, there are other areas of society where women are very much under-recognised and are not acknowledged in the way they should be or in the way that their male counterparts are.

He has mentioned hockey, netball and swimming but there is golf, tennis—the list goes on. Women have done exceedingly well and yet we know that they are not afforded the same status, there is not same focus in terms of media coverage, there is not the same status associated with their particular competitions, there is not the same level of prize money, and so the list goes on. That is one of the reasons why Katrine Hildyard, from another place, has been appointed a parliamentary secretary around the area of recreation and sport.

One of the areas that she is particularly focused on is women's representation in recreation and sport. I know that she is looking at number of initiatives in that area and there is considerable support from both my ministerial office and also the Office for Women. As I said, we should consider ourselves very fortunate to have a Premier who is such a strong champion for the advancement of women.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:28 :44 ): I have a supplementary question: can the minister reconcile the Premier's statement that 'instead of a major, tier 1 event you might go for, say, a woman's event'—what does the Premier mean by that?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:28 :55 ): I do not accept any of the assertions made in this place by the opposition. We see them come in here day in and day out with misconstrued statements and inaccurate statements. We had them waving some figures in question time last week. They had no idea what the figures were and could not understand them. They made absolute fools of themselves, between the Hon. David Ridgway and the Hon. Rob Lucas. They did not have a clue. They were construing all sorts of things around those figures.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Will you please have a little bit of respect for a woman who is on her feet as a minister giving an answer to one of your questions. Minister.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Thank you for your protection, sir. I do not accept any of the assertions made by the opposition. They regularly come into this place with inaccurate statements that are completely out of context.


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