Parliamentary reception for New Zealand and Australian rugby league teams and racing personalitiesRacing
· Welcome to all our guests tonight, particularly the Australian Kangaroos and New Zealand Kiwis, and two famous Australian-based Kiwi jockeys, the Cassidy brothers, Jim and Larry.
· Our Australian friends might wonder why they are being greeted by the Minister of Racing, and not by the Minister of Sport. One reason is that my colleague Trevor Mallard is on holiday. Another is that there are distinct similarities in style between racing and rugby league commentators. There is excitement and drama in every word they utter.
· The most important reason, however, is that rugby league and racing are combining to provide a weekend for Wellington to remember for a very long time.
· Actually, there is a fourth reason too. I might be Minister for Racing, but I am also proud to be patron of the Miramar rugby league club. So I know what I'm talking about.
· This weekend is the first time that a rugby league test has been held in the Westpac Trust stadium. And if the Warriors match against the Canterbury Bulldogs earlier in the year is any indication a big crowd at the Stadium will provide a great atmosphere.
· An Australian-New Zealand league test is always a huge occasion, one befitting the best two teams in the world. We have been playing each other since 1908 when the first game was played at the Royal Agricultural Society in Sydney before a crowd of 20,000.
· I have to admit that, despite being a genial host, I am thoroughly biased in favour of the Kiwis, and I will even brave a cold Wellington southerly wind if that is needed to help our cause.
· The match is certain to be a tough encounter, and the newer Kiwis will have a real initiation into test rugby league. Australia has a team of world class performers, but, as everybody involved with New Zealand sport knows, Kiwis get a special little glint in their eyes when competing against Australia.
· I know the two teams want to get on with the friendly pre-match preliminaries, but I'd just like to refer briefly to the racing fraternity here tonight. The Wellington Steeplechase is always a great event and it's wonderful to see the two sporting codes, league and racing, combining to promote a special Wellington weekend.
· I have a small presentation to make to Jim and Larry Cassidy, two fine ambassadors of New Zealand racing who have returned here to support steeplechase day at Trentham. This presentation represents the excellence they have brought to their sporting code and the honour they have brought New Zealand.
· I wish everyone here well for the weekend. I am sure you will provide great entertainment for us all.