• Hannah Phillips

Bridget McKenzie at the Press Club

Senator Bridget McKenzie is the Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Minister for Rural Health, Sports and Rural Communications and, on Wednesday, she addressed the National Press Club where she launched her National Sport Plan, the objective of which was to make Australia a happy healthy and active nation.

She said that her life had been shaped by sport and that, as a sports scientist, she had studied and lectured on sport at universities.

She made no apology for being a sporting shooter which she described as a gender neutral sport.

Senator McKenzie said that a successful regional Australia was sustainable, productive and globally oriented, values that the Nationals promote.

They stand for the people who produce the wealth for Australia.

From this perspective populating the regions is a critical issue which has to be driven by local initiatives.

Regional industries need backing not attacking.

Mining and agriculture are easy targets for people who live in cities and who disapprove of coal mining and live animal exports.

Senator McKenzie said that regional development required changes like an end to the moratorium on gas exploration.

Regions need world best communications and political parties need to recognise the importance of the regional economy to the aspirations of urban Australians.

She said that physical activity is a challenge for Australians.

We are not active enough and governments need to encourage people to be more physical.

The sports plan is aimed at getting more co-ordination through different sporting organisations.

The Sports Commission, known as Sports Australia, will lead the implementation of Sports 2030, the national plan, which will aim to make all Australians more active.

The government will fund learn-to-swim classes for all primary students and it will provide funds to grass roots clubs for sporting facilities.

Sports Australia will also identify the economic contribution of sports to the Australian economy.

The government will revitalise the Australian Institute of Sport in order to make it a world leading organisation again.

Senator McKenzie concluded her address by saying that Australian sport had to be tough but fair.

This meant that we had to ensure an ethical approach to sport in the face of pressures like online gambling.

To this end she had released a report on ‘Integrity in Sport’ prepared by James Wood QC, the former NSW judge.

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Image Source - CNBP

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