House debates

Wednesday, 4 December 2019


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

11:49 am

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the House for their support for me to remark on this antidoping bill. In the speaking time left, I might reflect—as it's quite important—on the Labor Party's sorry and sad history on a particular matter of doping. That is the South Australian Labor government's financial support of now disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, someone they paid an inordinate amount of money to attract to South Australia and compete in the Tour Down Under—coincidentally, adjacent to an important state election back in 2010.

We now know, after the expiration of the 10-year gag clause in the contract that the South Australian government and Lance Armstrong signed, that he was paid the princely sum of $1½ million—that's a lot of lycra—to come to Adelaide for six days. That didn't include the first-class airfares and the hotel expenses and all the rest of it. Now that this contract is in the public domain, after 10 years, it's interesting to see what it did and didn't include. It certainly did include the requirement for Lance Armstrong to do press conferences with the Labor Premier and participate in all kinds of public relations exercises. As I said, it was adjacent to a state election. He had to be the Premier's best friend, smile for the cameras and have dinner with him. What wasn't in the contract, interestingly, was any potential to claw back that money if Lance Armstrong brought the Tour Down Under into disrepute—say, I don't know, by being exposed as the leader of one of the greatest drug-doping rings in sports history? That is what Labor were complicit in, and it went on for three years. They weren't interested in the reputation of the Tour Down Under. They weren't interested after it transpired what Lance Armstrong had been associated with. They couldn't exercise a clause saying, 'We want that money back,' because they didn't even put one in the contract.

People like Lance Armstrong are looked up to by young kids, who treat these sportspeople as heroes. It doesn't matter whether it's cycling or cricket or tennis. In our country and in our culture, sport is one of the great pastimes—watching it, participating in it. For young people in particular, it is so very important that there are some things that entertain them that don't involve sitting inside on the couch in front of a television. We want kids to have that passionate interest in sport and being outdoors, exercising their minds and exercising their bodies. Part of their sporting ambition is because they have these heroes that they see on the television competing for our country and competing for their favourite sporting team. So those people have a responsibility to set a very high standard in sportsmanship, which includes, as the member for Bennelong commented, seeking to win but doing it fairly and making sure that people understand that principle, and that that's what they should pursue in their own interest in sport and, frankly, their whole lives—fighting hard and fighting fair.

ASADA is a very important institution in this country because, of course, it provides integrity around that and confidence around that. I think that, generally speaking, Australian sports men and women have the highest reputation in the world when it comes to fair play and fair conduct, and it's because of organisations like ASADA providing that guarantee. But it is important, obviously, every now and then to change and enhance and improve the processes that are put in place, to anticipate different developments and changes related to those people who do seek to do the wrong thing. It's highly appropriate that the House consider and, hopefully, support this bill this morning, because it will give ASADA the enhanced framework that they need in order to keep up their vigilant work to make sure that Australian sport is clean so that everyone can participate in sporting pursuits in this country with the confidence that the best person on the field, in the pool or on the court is the one that is going to be successful and win out.

I'm very proud as the member for Sturt of the excellent sporting pedigree of my electorate. I point out that probably the most famous sportsperson in Australian history is from the electorate of Sturt, Sir Donald Bradman, who was from the Kensington Cricket Club and was a great president of the South Australian Cricket Association. And there are many others. He's the sort of person that's still looked up to by young people in that particular pursuit in my electorate, across the country and across the world, because he was renowned for not only his prowess on the field but his sportsmanship. It's sportspeople like Sir Donald Bradman who have set such a very high standard, and ASADA need changes like those in this bill that we're debating this morning to put them in a position to maintain that reputation well into the future. I commend this bill to the House.


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