612 ABC with Emma Griffiths: Chat about Women's Sport

26 February 2016



SUBJECT/S: Women’s Sport; SEQ Stars; Broadcasting

GRIFFITHS: Sixteen past four on ABC Brisbane, I'm Emma Griffiths. We'll continue with the politics. Labor's sports spokesman is Jim Chalmers. Jim, hello.

CHALMERS: Hi, Emma. How are you doing?

GRIFFITHS: Yeah, good. Which women's sport do you like to watch?

CHALMERS: Basketball. I'm a big follower of the SEQ Stars which is the only national league team we have in my electorate. They're in the finals tomorrow against Dandenong down in Victoria. The last live sport I went to was a Stars game two weekends ago. It was a terrific event. The local community is really getting behind them.

GRIFFITHS: Where do they play?

CHALMERS: They play at Logan Metro which is at Browns Plains there in my electorate of Rankin. They got a reasonable crowd last time. People are really starting to get behind them. It's a terrific family outing and so I do enjoy going there. I've seen them probably four or five times this season.

GRIFFITHS: And what's their level of sponsorship like, Jim Chalmers?

CHALMERS: They're actually in a bit of strife at the moment. They're looking for a new sponsor. They have had some financial difficulty. It really does come back to, I think--

GRIFFITHS: Was I hearing that they were in danger of closing, having to fold?

CHALMERS: And one of the heartening things is that when the news got out that they were in some strife financially, the community did band together. Logan Campus of Griffith University came to the party and provided some money to keep them going, as did many members of the community and many businesses. It's been terrific to see people get behind them. Without that support from the community, they wouldn't be in the semi-finals tomorrow against Dandenong.

GRIFFITHS: Have they got enough continuing support to keep going?

CHALMERS: They'll be fine until the end of the season, and then they're looking for some ongoing support there. But there are some heartening signs about that.

GRIFFITHS: Do you have females in your close proximity, family members, that play sport?

CHALMERS: Yes. I grew up playing basketball, refereeing, running basketball, working in the bar at the basketball stadium -- all of those sorts of things. I've always grown up with terrific female role models in basketball. I think one of the things we should think about when we're trying to work out when women's sport has truly made it in this country is when male and female sportspeople have male and female role models. In my case, I grew up really admiring Lauren Jackson, the basketball player, and also Kristen Veal, who played the same position as I did. And I think that's really one of the great things about how women's cricket is going now. You see some of the young kids in my electorate, they can name players in the Australian women's team. And I think that's a really good sign about the progress that's being made. More progress needs to be made of course. But I think when young boys have female sporting role models, that's a good sign.

GRIFFITHS: More progress does need to be made in what areas, Jim Chalmers?

CHALMERS: The main thing that troubles me is the coverage. And I know that others have raised broadcasting and coverage on the program so far. If you look at some of those stats, in 2015 only seven per cent of sports programming was women's sport. When it comes to sports bulletins on news, only nineteen per cent is women's sport. There's more coverage of horse racing in the six o'clock bulletins than there is of women's sport. And I think that's a real problem, and I agree with what Minister Ley said before about this sort of vicious cycle of sponsorship and broadcasting. Because it is harder to get sponsorship money for sport that isn't broadcast on free-to-air TV or at all on pay TV. And I think one of the really detrimental impacts of that big round of ABC cuts that we had in 2014 was that sports like the WNBL basketball couldn't be covered like they were before on free-to-air TV. So when you think about young basketballers -- male or female -- who want to watch Lauren Jackson play, who wanted to watch Kristen Veal play, they didn't have that access to their heroes. So I think things like broadcasting policies play a really big part in all of this. We're falling well short when it comes to broadcasting of women's sport. I've got a whole range of colleagues, including Lisa Chesters in Bendigo, who care very deeply about this and who are campaigning to get more women's sport on TV and I think that's a really important aspiration.

GRIFFITHS: So, Labor in government would act on that?

CHALMERS: We are putting some thought right now into how we might implement more women's sport on TV. There are suggestions out there for the ABC Board to consider minimum levels of women's sport on TV. There are other platforms, of course, as the Minister said. But I think unless you have that really widespread, broad availability of female sporting heroes then we're not going to get the sort of progress that we want to see.

GRIFFITHS: Jim Chalmers, thanks very much for your time today.

CHALMERS: Thanks Emma.