It is a pleasure to rise and speak in favour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Bill 2008. Many say the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the heart of Melbourne.
Whether they are sporting fans, music fans or interested in the history of this
great city, for many people the MCG holds a special place in their heart for
different and diverse reasons. In a sense the MCG typifies Melbourne’s diverse
culture. The stadium has the ability to hold world-class sporting events,
musical events, religious events, charity events and political events.
It is in these events that we see Melbourne come to the fore,
and indeed, we see Victoria at its finest. Just a few weeks ago, on a rainy
Saturday, we saw 80 000 people pack the G to raise money for the Victorian
Bushfire Appeal Fund. The Sound Relief concert brought together some of this
country’s major musical talent, including, of course, the former Midnight Oil
frontperson and current federal Labor Party Minister for the Environment,
Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett. There would be no other place to hold such
a wonderful and significant event than the place known as ‘the people’s ground’.
In November 2006, the people of Victoria spoke out against the
then Howard government’s unjust WorkChoices legislation in a protest that saw
over 40 000 people at the MCG at 7 o’clock one morning to fight for their rights
at work. I am delighted to be standing here in the house today and to be able to
say that the last sitting day of the federal Parliament saw the abolition of
The last stake was driven through the heart of what will always
be known as a very dark time for workers in this country.
It is the events held there that shape the MCG and the people
of Melbourne and Victoria. They include events such as Australia’s first Olympic
Games in 1956, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, World Cup soccer matches,
world-class cricket, and even a mass, which was said by Pope John Paul II when
he visited in 1986. A number of religious events have taken place at the MCG.
They also exemplify the diversity of religious beliefs in Melbourne and
demonstrate how highly we regard those religious beliefs and the tolerance we
display for each other’s belief systems. These are all events that Melburnians
and Victorians will always remember, whether they attended one or many of these
events, saw them on television in their own lounge room or watched a grand final
at 3.00 a.m. in a bar in New York. You just remember the excitement of the game
and the lead-up to that major event in Melbourne.
The MCG is associated also with a whole range of personal
memories and with feelings in people’s hearts. Every young girl and boy who has
had the opportunity to run out onto the G at half-time to play in an Auskick
game during the footy season or in a Milo cricket match in the summer never
forgets the experience. In fact I have heard from parents and children alike
that sometimes they take the opportunity to store the mud from the soles of
their boots or shoes in a jar, never to be touched again. Such is the response
to running on the hallowed ground of the MCG.
I also have a family story that was part of our folklore. At
family gatherings, when asked about how he lost his front tooth, my father tells
a story. He tries to playfully scare younger members of the family and drops the
plate that his front tooth is on. He tells people that his front tooth was lost
Mr Rich-Phillips — On a point of order, President, there is no
minister present in the house.
An honourable member — Yes, there is.
Ms TIERNEY — As my father tells the story, his lost tooth
is actually still in a picket of the fence on the northern side of the MCG. He
says that that was a result of playing for South Australia against Tasmania
during the 1958 national football carnival, which was held over approximately a
week. I doubt very much that that tooth is still embedded in that fence post. I
am sure that 50 years on his grandchildren do not believe the story that was, as
I said, part of the folklore of the family for some 25 years.
Moving forward, on 23 September, the Melbourne Cricket Ground
will celebrate its 156th birthday.
Over those 156 years seven pieces of legislation have been
created relating to the MCG. They are the Melbourne Cricket Ground Act 1933, the
Melbourne Cricket Ground Act 1951, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (Trustees) Act
1957, the Melbourne Cricket Ground Act 1983, the Melbourne Cricket Ground Act
1984, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (Guarantees) Act 1957 and the Melbourne
Cricket Ground Trust Act 1989. Many of those acts now contain redundant
provisions, and clearly having seven pieces of legislation for the Melbourne
Cricket Ground is inefficient and confusing, to say the least. The Melbourne
Cricket Ground Bill essentially consolidates all appropriate active provisions
into a single act, while not removing any existing rights. However, the bill
includes three key areas of change to existing provisions which are
essential to the continued prosperity of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Firstly, under the new legislation the MCG Trust will be given
the additional function to, on request, provide the minister of the state
government with advice on matters relating to the construction and management of
major sports facilities and the management of major events. Secondly, currently
the Melbourne Cricket Ground Act 1933 prohibits a person, trade or business from
using the name ‘Melbourne Cricket Ground’ or ‘MCG’ to describe a place that is
not the MCG. However, it does not include a penalty for a breach of this
provision. The bill before us today addresses this inadequacy. The third area of
change relates to the floodlight towers and floodlights at the ground. The
Melbourne Cricket Ground Act 1984 provides for the construction of the
As the provision of authorisation to build the towers is no
longer necessary, the bill before us provides for the replacement, removal,
refurbishment or upgrade of the floodlight towers. As well as these three key
areas of change, the bill also makes minor changes to refine and update the
As I stated earlier, the MCG is a landmark for this great city
and this great state. It is extremely important that we protect our state’s
landmarks and ensure that there is every opportunity for their continued success
and prosperity. It is a pleasure to be a member of a government which so clearly
demonstrates its commitment to the history, heritage, sport, major events and
the future prosperity of the state’s landmarks. I commend the bill to the house.