Page 2405 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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exciting time in women’s sport, and it is appropriate for the Assembly to reflect on this and the steps we have taken in assisting the progress made in recent years. The last two years have seen tremendous development in women’s sport at an elite level. The 2015-16 summer of cricket saw the launch of the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League, with players like Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and ACT Meteor Erin Osborne broadcast into our living rooms. So successful were the ratings that the Ten Network extended its coverage and shifted the telecast to its main channel.

In 2017 the AFL launched its inaugural season of the AFL women’s competition. Across the competition Canberra was well represented, no more so than by former Canberra Capital Jess Bibby, who hung up her high-tops for a pair of cleats to join the Giants leadership group. Canberra also witnessed one of the first-ever games of women’s footy, with the Giants taking on the Bulldogs at Manuka Oval. In 2017 we also saw the reconfiguration of elite netball in Australia, with a new national netball competition. The arrangements for the new competition doubled the minimum salary for players and raised the average salary to $67,500. The significance of this in terms of women’s right to wage equality cannot be underestimated. While this should be congratulated, we must recognise that there is still a long way to go, with many players having to maintain paid employment alongside their sporting activities.

So much has happened in women’s sport recently that the ABC felt it was time to launch the first television sports program presented and produced by women. While it is frustrating that it took us until 2017 to do this, it does reflect the changing attitudes towards women. It is also an exciting time in women’s sport in the ACT. In the W-League, Canberra United, who play their home games out at McKellar Park in my electorate, will later this year begin their defence of the regular season title. The team will no doubt be bolstered by the return of Hayley Raso, who has just played in the Matildas’ first-ever win over team USA. I am looking forward to the start of the WNBL season as the Canberra Capitals continue to rebuild their squad. They have already made a number of signings, with Australian Opal Rachel Jarry and seven-time WNBL championship winner Natalie Hurst returning home.

The ACT government is committed to the ongoing success of these teams and their continued presence in the ACT. In this year’s budget the Canberra Capitals will receive $250,000 a year in funding, and Canberra United $125,000. In addition, the ACT government will deliver on a promise to install a permanent basketball court at the National Convention Centre, bringing the Capitals into the city. The presence of these elite teams in the ACT has meant that Canberrans have been fortunate enough to see some of the greatest players ever to play these sports in recent years.

The Canberra Capitals and the AIS were home to basketball great Lauren Jackson for much of her career. Lauren Jackson is one of the best basketball players ever to have played. To list everything Lauren achieved in her basketball career would likely take the entire time scheduled for this debate. To then list the work Lauren has done outside basketball, particularly in and around the Canberra region, would likely force a dinner break this evening. To put things succinctly, however, throughout her career Lauren Jackson was compared with Michael Jordan, highlighting the fact that if she had been born a man she would be one of the best-known athletes in history, not to mention one of the richest.

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