Last night the House of Representatives debated a motion to make a posthumous apology to arguably our greatest ever male sprinter Peter Norman, whose legacy is so much greater than just his feats on the track. This is an edited version of a speech to the parliament by the Member for Bennelong John Alexander.
I rise to recognise the unique contribution made by Australian athlete Peter Norman to the worlds of both sport and politics. In sport Norman’s feet did the talking, becoming the highest achieving Australian male sprinter in our nation’s history. In politics, Norman’s statement was not through the delivery of a speech but simply through the wearing of a badge.
The badge said: ‘Olympic Project for Human Rights’. The venue was the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. The year 1968 is often referred to as the year the world changed - the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy; the raging of the Vietnam War; riots in Paris; industrial strikes across Europe; and uprisings in Czechoslovakia and Pakistan.
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