Standing up for Canberra

The Incredible Career of Tim Gavel

Last month, the voice of sport in Canberra switched off his microphone for the last time. Today I rise to honour Canberra sports journalist Tim Gavel and his incredible career.

Both Tim and his wife, Jenny, join us in the chamber this afternoon and I'd like to welcome them both. It's very lovely to be talking about you and honouring you today with the member for Fenner also here with me.

When it comes to sport, Tim Gavel is a jack-of-all-trades—but, unlike the saying, he's a master of pretty much all of them.

Over a 30-year career, he's commentated just about everything: Rugby League, Rugby Union, horseracing, AFL, soccer, netball, rowing, basketball, swimming, diving, shooting, Greco-Roman wrestling and cricket, to name just a few! He's reported on seven Olympic Games, seven Commonwealth Games and the 2000 Sydney Paralympics. From the commentator's box, with the window open, he's talked us through Wallabies tests, Rugby world cups, Big Bash League, world volleyball, world rowing cups and Australian Rowing Championships.

Like most great stories start, he came from humble beginnings.

Tim Gavel always wanted to be a radio announcer. As a child growing up in the country New South Wales town of Condobolin he often set up his room as a makeshift studio, with egg cartons lining the walls to improve the sound. He spent the 1980s sleeping in the back of his ute while travelling across country New South Wales and Queensland searching for a job—the elusive job in radio.

In December 1988, he joined the ABC Sports department in what he describes as a 'sink or swim' situation. Of his first job in sports radio, Tim said:

"… the only way I knew how to overcome my shortcomings as a sports commentator was to work harder than anybody else."

And Tim's hard work paid off. It paid off in spades. His accolades include being three-time ABC Sports Broadcaster of the Year, receiving an Order of Australia Medal in 2014 for services to broadcasting and the community, being named ACT Local Hero in 2008 for services to broadcasting and charity in Canberra, and receiving the Chief Minister's Award for services to broadcasting and the community.

Tim's incredible career gifted him with many stories about the reality of journalism—the reality of sports journalism.

In 1992 he was selected for his first Olympic Games coverage, in Barcelona. He recalls his big break for the Olympics:

"Tim Lane, who was commentating the marathon, crossed to me as Rob De Castella crossed the line in the men's marathon. It was a huge build up, but just as I was about ask him my first question he collapsed from dehydration and was ushered into the medical centre.

My big moment had disappeared before my very eyes."

In his farewell to the ABC, Tim told a story of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he'd been given a world exclusive to interview the gold-medal-winning middle-distance runner from Africa. After commencing the live televised interview, Tim quickly learned the only word that the athlete actually knew in English was 'yes'. So every time he asked a question the answer was yes.

But Tim Gavel isn't just a sports journalist; he's an incredible diplomat—obviously, in terms of dealing with that situation!

He's also a man of considerable integrity, considerable generosity, with a great love for his family and his community.

He's a patron of the Early Morning Centre, helping the homeless and disadvantaged here in Canberra. He's an ambassador for Every Chance To Play, which is an organisation helping families to pay registration fees for junior sport—vitally important to keep young Canberrans, young Australians, playing sport. He's an ambassador for Daramalan College Rowing Club. And he's associated with the Special Olympics and Youth Care Canberra.

Most importantly, he's a very loving husband to his wife, Jenny, and a devoted parent to Eske, Skinny and Meron.

Of his career, Tim said:

"I owe a debt of gratitude to the ABC. Never did I take my job for granted, it has been a great privilege to go to work each day."

Tim Gavel, it's been an honour.

It's been a privilege for Canberrans to have you on our radios to tune in on those weekends to hear your dulcet tones.

Thank you for your remarkable contribution to our community.

Thank you for your ongoing contribution to our community.

Thank you. We commend you. We applaud you for a wonderful career and for keeping us up to date with sports and everything that's happening in that area.

Thank you so much.