Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity Australia) Bill 2019; Third Reading
Of Australia, yes. I take that interjection and I accept it—until you have a look at Frankston, the home that I have moved to and embraced and that has embraced me. My electorate of Dunkley has sport in its veins. Saturday morning is for basketball, cricket, netball and footy. One of the great things about my electorate of Dunkley is the number of parents that give up their time. They're coaches, they're managers and they run the local clubs. To them, sport is more than a competition; sport is their community. It's their family. For many children, particularly in the more disadvantaged suburbs in my electorate, sport is where they find their mentors, learn the lessons of discipline and find people who will support them, teach them and help them through the difficult times. That's why integrity in sport is so important—because it means so much to so many of us.
Sport gave me opportunities that I would never otherwise have had. At the risk of those less educated members of this chamber laughing at me yet again, I'll talk about squash. When I was 12 years old, I was being picked on by some girls and I was really unhappy. I didn't know what to do, so I went to my father. I was sad and I needed something in my life to help me get the confidence to deal with being bullied. My father, being a PE teacher—a very handy sportsman—said: 'My tennis friends said that they need someone to fill in for a squash game. I'm going to go and have a game of squash. I've never played before. Why don't you come with me, Peta, and maybe it's something we can do together?' From the age of 12, I played squash and I found, in that squash club, a community. I played squash against girls and boys, men and women, and I found something that I was good at. I found something that gave me the confidence, at various times in my life when things were not necessarily going the way I wanted and I was feeling insecure, that I knew I could go back to. I also found friends that I've got to this very day who mean a lot to me and who I have a shared history with.
If we let sport in this country, let alone anywhere around the world, descend into something that's not much more than an activity for people to make money from, that's not much more than whoever can bend the rules the most can win, and where the gambling companies can make money off people who are vulnerable, then we are losing something very integral to the Australian way of life. We're losing something very important to young people who sometimes just need that thing outside of themselves to give them that confidence to go on in life.
My father went on, after being a PE teacher and a lecturer at university, to be the director of elite sports at the Australian Institute of Sport for many years. He used to come home and talk to me about how that was the most amazing job in the world, because he got to work with all of these young athletes from different sports and from around the country who were training and working hard and sacrificing to try to be elite, to try to represent their country and to try to achieve. That was why, at the AIS, there was such an emphasis on integrity in sport. There was such an emphasis on teaching the swimmers, the athletes, the soccer players and the basketballers why it was important your success is based on how hard you train and what attitude you take, not on performance-enhancing drugs and not on whether or not you can bend the rules the most in order to succeed. It is why we developed such fabulous athletes in Australia.
Integrity in sport is so important, because more and more we are seeing sport as a vehicle for young women and girls to get a sense of pride and achievement. Women have always been good at sport. There's the suggestion from some people, 'Women are getting so good at sport now and they're getting so much attention,' but women have always been good at sport. The best female athlete that we've ever seen in this country, Heather Mackay, the champion squash player, was also one of the best athletes we've ever seen in this country. We've had world No. 1 squash players. We had Sarah Fitz-Gerald, Michelle Martin and Vicky Cardwell—they've always been great at sport.
A government member interjecting—
I hear 'Dawn Fraser' being yelled out from the other side. Absolutely. We've had Dawn Fraser. Last week I got to meet Melissa Barbieri, former captain of the Matildas. The Diamonds have been role models and leaders in sport for many, many years. Netball is a sport of integrity that some other sports could look up to. Australian women cricketers are the best cricketers in the world, and they are achieving time after time after time, and I am absolutely confident that, when we have the T20 in Australia next year, we will see the Australian women's cricket team achieving yet again. Ash Barty: I dare anyone in this chamber to find a current athlete who we could admire more than Ash Barty for the way she conducts herself, for her achievements—
Honourable members interjecting—
I see that there is bipartisan support. That's why integrity in sport is so important. We need to have a tribunal like the one that's being set up, so that we can look at the successes of our athletes and know that they are successful because of blood, sweat and tears, and hard work—like someone as amazing as Ash Barty.
The Australian women's softball team this year qualified for the 2020 Olympics next year. I think that's the first time they've qualified for the Olympics since the year 2000. There are female athletes around this country working day in, day out to be professionals, to get equal pay with men, to represent their country and to be role models. That's what we want our young girls and our young women to be able to see.
In my electorate of Dunkley just last week the Frankston and District Netball Association received the runner-up for the Good Sports Awards in Victoria.