| November 24, 2016

Damian Drum discusses Kevin Sheedy's visit

Delivered: Federation Chamber, House of Representatives, 24 November 2016.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to host Kevin Sheedy here at Parliament House.

The former coach and all-time AFL great was in parliament to meet with Barnaby Joyce and help promote his next big—or should I say 'gigantic'—idea.

Having masterminded the AFL's Anzac Day blockbuster and then his tribute to our Indigenous players through his Dreamtime at the 'G game, the master coach is now building momentum for his AFL Country Game, highlighting the amazing contribution those from country Australia have made to this great nation.

As we know, the crowds at the annual Anzac Day game have grown by over 30 per cent since 1995, when Kevin Sheedy started putting emphasis on this game.

It does not matter what position Essendon or Collingwood are at on the ladder; their Anzac Day clashes have always been tense and fierce encounters.

Similarly, his Dreamtime at the 'G game has always created huge interest and huge crowds as thousands of Indigenous Australians walk to the MCG in an amazing tribute to our Indigenous players, especially those champions who are currently weaving their magic across the AFL.

What these two blockbuster events have done is much more than just pack out the MCG.

These two iconic events have highlighted growing national pride in our Anzacs and all of our returned servicemen, and increasing the esteem in which our current serving members are held.

They have also improved the status of our Indigenous champions and the esteem in which they are held.

Now the former plumber from Prahran has set his mind to building the status of country Australia.

This game will pay due respect to the contribution of regional Australians, highlighting their talents in the field of agriculture, the benefits and availability of tourism, the importance of our trade from country Australia to other countries and the health and wellbeing of country living, and getting Australian regions to highlight those benefits.

It will also look at some of the battles that many people in country Australia are facing.

I am looking forward to supporting Kevin Sheedy in his endeavours to bring country Australia into the spotlight when he continues to drive the AFL Country Game, which will be held next year on 13 May at the MCG.

He expects to have a continual walk from Birrarung Marr right through to the MCG, with every region of Australia there, highlighting their benefits and telling all the people who are interested in country Australia why they should actually come and visit their particular area—a real opportunity for country Australia to highlight to the world what benefits they have in their areas.

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