Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Tony Abbott MP

Address to the North Melbourne Football Club AFL Grand Final Breakfast, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

28 September 2013

Melbourne

Prime Minister

E&OE

Thanks Dwayne and thanks ladies and gentlemen.

I am very honoured and thrilled on this day-of-days in Australian sport to address my first North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast as Prime Minister.

But I’m under no illusions about my standing.

Australians love their sporting heroes but, at most, merely tolerate their politicians, so I want to thank you for making me so welcome today.

It’s always good to be here in Melbourne.

Melburnians have a way of keeping Sydneysiders in their place. I ran into a great Melburnian, Lindsay Fox, yesterday who congratulated me on the election. "Once," he said, "you were just a would be/could be, and now you’re a future has been."

I often think having politicians address sports breakfasts makes as much sense as having sportsmen address parliament, but having just listened to Andrew Demetriou, I’m confident that politics has at least as much to learn from sport as the other way around. Thank you for that gracious speech, Andrew.

It’s good to see people here in such numbers and with such enthusiasm because I know it has been a tough year for the AFL. Some people were even charged with bringing the game into disrepute. I’m grateful, I really am, that there’s no offence of bringing parliament into disrepute because I fear all MPs might be guilty.

But it hasn’t been all bad news this year.

My team, Greater Western Sydney, has done incredibly well – with one win. Sometimes you only need one win to have a great year and Kevin Sheedy tells me that next year will be even better.

I congratulate the Fremantle Dockers on making their first ever grand final and I congratulate the Hawthorn Hawks for making their second grand final in a row.

My philosophy is that if you lose one big event you deserve to win the next one. So, I'm going for the Hawks today.

But I gather there’s something in AFL called ‘Kennett’s Curse.’ I can’t believe there would be anything called 'Kennett’s Curse' because Jeff is a terrific person, I love him, but whatever 'Kennett's Curse' might be, let’s hope no one suffers from it today.

Today is a celebration of all that’s good in sport.

Today is a chance to marvel at that spirit; to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Whoever wins, it will certainly be a great game of football.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

[ends]