House debates

Wednesday, 4 December 2019


Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Enhancing Australia's Anti-Doping Capability) Bill 2019; Second Reading

11:35 am

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Australia is a proud sporting nation with a history of performing well above the level that would normally be expected of a nation our size. From Fred Spofforth to Ash Barty, Australia has always competed at the top level and often been victorious. But Australians don't just expect our sportspeople to win; they expect them to do so fairly and within the rules. Where they don't do this, we expect them to face the music. The sanctions placed on the Australian cricket team for ball tampering were way in excess of the standard punishment for their crimes, showing how we place our sportspeople on a pedestal and expect them to report to a higher standard. We as Australians can't stand unfair behaviour on the field, and athletes like Mack Horton have faced flak from other nations for standing up for these more moral principles. But we can only point the finger because we know our internal systems are robust. Australia has obligations under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation International Convention Against Doping in Sport to abide by the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code. The Wood Review of Australia's Sports Integrity Arrangements recommended a range of enhancements to the capabilities of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, ASADA, including through changes to legislation to counteract the increased sophistication of doping practices.

This bill, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Enhancing Australia's Anti-Doping Capability) Bill, will assist ASADA to adapt and harmonise its functions to combat the complex and evolving nature of doping in sport. A version of this bill was introduced into the previous parliament. The election and subsequent introduction of this parliament has allowed for additional consultation to be undertaken with stakeholders in both the private and public sectors. As a result, the explanatory materials have been updated to provide greater clarity and context to the proposed amendments in the bill.

The following changes have been made since the bill's first introduction in the previous parliament: an amendment to allow ASADA's secrecy provisions to be included within schedule 3 of the Freedom of Information Act 1992, and very minor and consequential amendments to harmonise operation with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity Australia) Bill 2019. Many of the proposed amendments will have the effect of streamlining of administrative procedures in relation to anti-doping rule violations, which will reduce the burden on sports, athletes and support personnel and are supported by the feedback of stakeholders. These changes include the removal of the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel from the rule violation process and the removal of a pathway for review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of a preliminary anti-doping rule violation decision by the CEO of ASADA. Importantly, abolition of the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel will not affect the existing right of a participant to have a fair hearing of an allegation of an anti-doping violation. In fact, abolition of the process should serve to expedite the participant's opportunity to have a fair hearing. There will be additional protections against civil action for those working in sports bodies who are expected, under the current anti-doping arrangements, to take forward allegations of anti-doping rule violations within their sport when acting in good faith.

These protections match the existing protections for ASADA staff, and the extension of the immunity is a reflection of the fact that a sport may be required to do things as a result of ASADA's exercise of its legislative functions. By enhancing statutory protections of information provided to a sporting organisation, there can be greater information-sharing between ASADA and the sporting bodies, which will ensure security around the release of private information of those involved in possible anti-doping processes, while maintaining the ability to seek out violations. The amendment to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 will provide appropriate guarantees to athletes, support personnel and national sporting organisations around the protection of their information, including sensitive medical and health information. It will also provide consistency of information protection between ASADA and the proposed National Sports Tribunal. These changes will ensure that athletes can have confidence that they are playing on an even field, and Australians can have faith not only that the sports that we're watching are fair but that our Australian sports men and women are representing our country with the same ideals of fairness and equality that their forebears have had for over 100 years.


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