Legislative Council: Wednesday, July 03, 2019



Barty, Ms A.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Leader of the Opposition) (16:23): I move:

That this council—

1. Congratulates Ash Barty on her recent wins at the 2019 French Open and the 2019 Birmingham Classic;

2. Recognises that Ash Barty is the first Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley to become the number one ranked female tennis player in the world;

3. Recognises that Ash Barty is the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia; and

4. Acknowledges the excellent role model Ash Barty provides to young Australians as a strong Aboriginal woman.

It is with great pride that I rise today to pay tribute to Ashleigh Barty from Queensland. Ashleigh is now the number one tennis player in the world, and it is not only a source of great pride to all fellow Aboriginal people in this country but to our nation as a whole.

Barty, the 23 year old from Queensland, is extraordinarily special but the humble 23 year old would not say that. She is now the number one women's tennis player in the world after a rapid rise from a ranking of 623rd in the world after returning to the sport in 2016. She started playing at the age of five and won the girls' singles at Wimbledon in 2011 at the age of 15. In high school, she played volleyball, soccer and basketball, and she played them all well.

After winning the French Open at Roland-Garros last month, Barty said, 'it has just been really nice to have the support from everyone. I am a very lucky girl.' But luck had nothing to do with it. Hard work, dedication and a love for what she does had everything to do with it. Barty was the first Australian in 46 years to win the French Open. Before finding her sweet spot with tennis, she enjoyed a brief career as a cricket player for Queensland Heat.

Now, Barty is in the United Kingdom playing at Wimbledon. She had a strong first round win and I am sure she is going to play her very best. If she continues like she did in the first round, winning in straight sets, I am sure there are great things to come. Despite the expectations that many have, whatever she does will be a massive achievement. I am disappointed, though, that the broadcaster chose to play a men's game over the new number one seed, world number one and new Australian hero.

Barty is a proud Aboriginal woman, with ties to the Ngaragu mob and the land that stretches from the Victorian border up through the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. Barty and her sisters learnt of their great-grandmother's heritage when she was around 12 years old and the girls became involved with their Aboriginal family. In a recent article she said, 'My heritage is really important to me.' Barty became a Tennis Australia Indigenous ambassador in 2018.

I am not saying this is the main reason it is good to support this motion, but I also note that Barty is reported to be a supporter of the 2017 premiership winners, the mighty Richmond Tigers, which is another very strong reason to support a remarkable young woman. I note that many in the chamber, particularly those who wear the blue, yellow and red colours, do not necessarily seem to agree with this, but they are wrong. Her new ranking is the highest for an Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley was in the top position way back in 1976. She follows in her footsteps by becoming the second Indigenous Australian to lift the French Open cup, named after French tennis player Suzanne Lenglen, who won 31 championship titles.

It has been reported that Goolagong Cawley is Barty's idol. I think many Australians may have a new idol in Ash Barty as well. I would like to pass on to Ashleigh that I support her in what she does, the pride she takes in her Indigenous heritage and watching Richmond win the 2019 and 2020 AFL grand finals.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.