Australian Paralymic Team and Vietnam Veterans
JASON MORRISON: Well, with the attention of the Olympic Games now, I guess, well it’s history really, focus attends – rightly goes towards the Paralympic Games. Opening Ceremony starts in Beijing on Saturday.
We have one of our news team, Jessica Campanaro (*), heading there too. She will bring you coverage of the Paralympic Games.
The Village has just been officially opened in Beijing and that will be home to 7400, more than 4000 visiting for competition. Now, Australia is sending its largest ever away Paralympic team to Beijing and they’re leaving this morning. One hundred and seventy Australians are taking part in the Games and today the Paralympic team is getting its farewell from Sydney Airport. The Prime Minister’s wife, Therese Rein, is there as one of the patrons of the team.
And Bill Shorten, the Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, is on the line. He’s at the airport as well.
Bill Shorten, good morning to you.
BILL SHORTEN: Good morning.
JASON MORRISON: Good on you for giving this the attention it deserves, because I think, in a way, after the Games it’s easy for us to think, well, it’s all over. Far from it. There’s been just as much planning, commitment and training going into all this.
BILL SHORTEN: Well, Australia likes to do well at whatever it does and the Paralympics is no exception. It’s a great atmosphere here this morning. You’ve got some of the athletes in attendance, some of their support staff and trainers. It’s the biggest team that we’ve ever sent overseas. We’ll be competing in 13 of the 20 sports at the Games. It’s a bigger team than the one we sent to Athens, which is fantastic.
JASON MORRISON: Yeah, it is. It’s brilliant. Why – we say the biggest away team at the moment. Why this one? I’m sort of, in a way, surprised that we – that we have this sort of strange thing where we – we face a bit of a funding problem with Paralympic Games that we have to be considering limiting the number of people that go.
BILL SHORTEN: Well, I think it’s one of the challenges when you have Games in your home country, it’s always easy to get more people.
JASON MORRISON: Course.
BILL SHORTEN: The funding has actually increased between the Athens Games and this Games. That’s why we’re sending a larger team. It is – it is quite a remarkable atmosphere. The thing about the Paralympics is that these people are athletes, first, second and third.
And it’s, you know, I loved watching the Olympics earlier this month. It was fantastic. But this – this Olympics, the Paralympics, is sport as it was. The competition’s at the highest level, the athletes have to train as hard, all the events are – you know, there’s no compromising, no shirking or hiding when you do these events, but the athletes themselves are – they’re there, really, for the love of the game. It’s fantastic.
JASON MORRISON: Yeah. No, good on you and good for highlighting that.
I must say to you this morning, there is another story that’s burning in my mind about this Vietnam Veterans thing, and I imagine you’ve heard it on the news today. We’ve been trying to get the Minister, Alan Griffin, one of your colleagues. Now, I mean, Bill Shorten, you’re a new Member of Parliament, you’d understand how the public thinks about this. Why are we penny pinching?
BILL SHORTEN: I heard this story this morning; I don’t understand all the context of the story. I’ve got no doubt that something will be resolved, but I’d far better to leave Alan Griffin, who’s done a lot in the Veterans Affairs space, you know, give you the latest update.
JASON MORRISON: Well, he has and he doesn’t want to talk to us about it and he’s standing by his decision not to pay the 1200 bucks…
BILL SHORTEN: There’s…
JASON MORRISON: … and that, to me, is just not right.
BILL SHORTEN: There’s one thing worse than a politician saying people – saying things that people don’t agree with, saying something when they don’t know what’s going – when they don’t know what the story is behind it.
JASON MORRISON: Yeah. Well, I hope it’s a very complicated story because it just doesn’t seem that to me.
I appreciate your coming on this morning. Thanks.
BILL SHORTEN: And the Paralympians, people – it would be great to see Australians backing them in. They can get on the website. It’ll be ABC’s, to be fair to ABC TV, they’re giving it the best coverage it’s ever had, 100 hours. So it’ll be great fun.
JASON MORRISON: Yeah. Good on you. Thank you.
BILL SHORTEN: Cheers.
JASON MORRISON: And we’ve got our reporter there too, Jessica Campanaro.
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