Official opening of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre



13 March 2015

TIO Stadium, Mararra, Northern Territory

Well, thank you. Richard, thank you for that wonderful welcome to country. To everyone who's here, there's so many significant people here that I won't bore you with all these acknowledgements again, but particularly Adam Giles, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. It is great to be part of this today. Can I also mention particularly, Simon Crean, former minister, who was the minister who allocated this money when he was in government. There's much attention given to the issues which are debated ferociously in the federal Parliament, but there are things which are of a bipartisan nature and this is one of those. Simon, you deserve credit for foresight in funding this project.

It's also great to be with Mike Fitzpatrick. When I was a young fella, I used to admire him very much as a Carlton supporter. Of course in that respect, Michael Long, too, who I still haven't forgiven for 1993. And what he did to us on that day. But it is, I think, an awesome tribute to someone who has been a very significant contributor to our game for a very long time, on behalf of Indigenous people that he represents. AFL has done a lot for Indigenous people; but I think Indigenous people have done a lot for AFL.

The link that is there is very, very strong. We wouldn't know our game without the contribution of people like Michael Long to what is the world's best game, the most interesting game, the best game to watch. And it is very much because of the colourful cultural influences that we've had from the various links within Australia and particularly the Indigenous community.

And this, I think, is an opportunity to bring that even closer together. To bring the education component—the pathway for Indigenous kids to follow their dreams, but also be able to address the challenges with employment that we see so often affecting the Indigenous community, and in that respect we are very proud to be part of this.

It is a fantastic development and it will do much, I think, not just for the Northern Territory but for Australia as a whole. The Prime Minister has asked me to send a message to you from him to congratulate all the people involved, to thank you for celebrating this event tonight. It is a terrific event; it is a fantastic development, and I wish you all the best of success in making it work into the future. Thanks so much.