*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land – and all the Aboriginal champions of our great game. The AFL would not be what it is without Indigenous athletes.
And let us all acknowledge the sad passing of a man of rare talent, 85 games for Melbourne and 138 wickets for Australia. The voice of all sport, Max Walker.
It’s lovely to be here with some legends of the game, with football administrators, passionate football lovers…and the Prime Minister.
As you know, Malcolm and I went head-to-head this year.
We slugged it out in a fierce contest, tightly fought.
No quarter asked for, none given.
As long as the Brownlow count…and just as hard to watch.
But in the end, I was just too good for him.
I’m pleased to report I won both The Herald Sun and The Age footy tipping competitions.
Anyway, as you know, Malcolm did actually win our other big clash this year – there, I’ve said it.
I was sitting around afterwards, reflecting on all the hard work my team put in, receiving the wisdom of the panel show experts and talkback radio hosts as they slag me off…
And suddenly, I realised – this must be what it feels like to coach Richmond.
Anyway, on a less self-absorbed note.
2016 has been another great year for the game we love. Congratulations, in particular on AFL Womens.
My 6 year old daughter, Clementine, her PE teacher, Bree White, played for the Demons in this year’s All-Star Game – she’s one of a whole new generation of role models, inspiring girls everywhere.
Congratulations on everything you do to promote multiculturalism and respect for diversity – from Auskick up.
I also want to give a shout-out to Keilor who got the silverware in my local competition Essendon District Football League – and to all the country and suburban clubs, from the local legends to the junior teams.
Local footy is the envy of every other code in Australia.
Finally, to the crucial business at hand.
I’m a Pies supporter, but I’m also the proud owner of two magnificent British bulldogs – Theo and Tilly.
My main job at home is to clean up after them.
And if you’ve ever seen how much two full-grown bulldogs eat, you’ll know that’s a big job.
In a lot of ways it’s great training for being Leader of the Opposition.
So I’m tipping the dogs and I’m backing ‘The Bont’ for the Norm Smith –not the least because I saw he took his Mum to the Brownlow on Monday.
I remember when I was 20, I had to take my amazing Mum as a date a fair few times as well.
I also want to give a special mention to Bob Murphy and Mitch Wallis, who both deserve to be out there and can take great pride in what the Bulldogs have achieved.
No matter what, today’s contest is going to be a cracker.
You wouldn’t read about it would you?
A flashy, wealthy, exciting, agile success story from harbourside Sydney.
And from Melbourne’s West a club for the battlers, with a slightly-overweight, slow-running mascot that loves a good scrap.
Let’s hope this time around, the underdogs get up.
Have a great day everyone.