Olympic campaign goes national

Following endorsement at the General Assembly, Councils across Australia have been invited to join a major fundraising initiative that will assist our Australian Olympic Team to prepare for Sydney 2000 Games. The brainchild of Cairns Mayor, Councillor Tom Pyne, the scheme is in place in a large number of Queensland Councils.

A totally voluntary initiative, Councils participating simply encourage their residents to contribute 50 cents each year for the next three years, or make a one off $1.50 payment.

A certificate, signed by the Council's Mayor, will be given to all ratepayers in recognition of the support they have given the Olympic Team. It enables people throughout Australia, no matter where they live, to have a direct association and a sense of ownership of our Olympic Team.

Joining Councillor John Campbell, ALGA President, for the official national launch during the Assembly was former Olympian, Herb Elliott; Sports Commentator, Norman May; and Atlanta Olympics Cyclist, Tracy Gordon.

"The success of the Sydney Games depends on the success of our Team," Norman May said. "To prepare adequately we have to take the Team away or bring other Teams here.

"This scheme, which has been initiated by Local Government, has the capacity to raise all the money required. The public response has been enormous."

Herb Elliott pointed out that our Sydney Team, of around 1,000, will be the second largest. Only the USA Team will have a larger contingency.

"The Australian public has a huge sense of ownership of their sportspeople," he said. "This will give your ratepayers an opportunity to become involved in a real way."

Tracy Gordon spoke about the thrill of representing Australia in Atlanta. She said the expectations of all Australians are high and, for athletes to compete to the fullest, they need to not have to worry about finances.

"This is an Olympics for all Australians," she said. "I hope you are all supportive."

Describing this scheme as yet another example of the tenacity of Local Government to take up initiatives and run with them, John Campbell said it also demonstrates that Councils, as the sphere of government closest to the people, are best placed to rally wide community support for important national programs.