Bill's Speeches

NORTH MELBOURNE GRAND FINAL BREAKFAST

I’d like to acknowledge my colleague Malcolm Turnbull. I think after his speech this morning I can reliably say that if his current gig doesn’t work out, he does have a career as a commentator.

But when politicians talk about football, it’s a bit like a mix of:

  • That Hawthorn silver power-ranger jumper

  • Meatloaf at half time

  • And the sub rule.


It looks wrong, it sounds wrong, and people want it to stop as soon as possible.

But even I was surprised this year at the Queen’s Birthday clash when the big screen showed Gil, yours truly and Tony Abbott – we were sitting together …and the whole crowd started booing.

I have to say, Gil, I wasn’t aware you were so unpopular.

Now my main job today is to give you my selection.

I’m tempted to tip West Coast, for three reasons:

First, the Hawks have been in charge for more than two years, and I firmly believe Australia needs a change.

Second, I see that the AFL store is already selling ‘Nic Natanui Norm Smith’ merchandise online.

And third, Julie Bishop is tipping the Eagles – and let’s face it, she always ends up on the winning side.

In fact, Julie’s already told me she knows the exact margin.

But, in the end, you have to back the proven champions - and I think the Hawks will be just too good today.

But friends, this has been a testing year for the game which we all love.

Personal tragedy has struck the Walsh, Riewoldt and Ratten families.

Adam Goodes – a great Australian and an inspirational leader – was subjected to shocking, ignorant abuse in the final year of his magnificent career.

Essendon fans and players have had to live under a cloud of uncertainty.

But, time and time again, the AFL has shown that it can rise above this.

Footy retains its special capacity to inspire us, to move us, to make us laugh and cry, cheer and weep.

And the AFL leads the way in promoting important causes: from respect for women and the elimination of family violence to Neale Daniher’s incredible fight to freeze Motor Neurone Disease.

So friends, my favourite moment – it doesn’t matter if you’re in the grandstand, or at a BBQ with friends watching it on TV – my favourite moment in every Grand Final is when those final strains of the national anthem fade into the roar of the crowd.

At that moment, I think all of us, doesn’t matter what your politics are, young and old, city and country, first Australians and first-generation migrants…

…we all get those goosebumps.

That’s what we celebrate today – it’s an amazing game in a remarkable country.

Have a great grand final everyone.

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