Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity Australia) Bill 2019; Second Reading
As I said in relation to the previous bill, integrity on the sports field is important. As sportspeople we look across the net and expect the person facing us be to playing by the same rules and competing on a fair field—of course, if you're playing against the great Romanian Ilie Nastase it's a bit tricky! Currently, the assurances that this is the case come from an impractically large number of agencies from the ASADA, the National Integrity of Sport Unit in the Department of Health, and the relevant national sports integrity functions of Sport Australia. This bill will make the logical step of establishing Sports Integrity Australia to unite this disparate group.
At the heart of the Wood review was the recommendation accepted by government that a new agency be established to cohesively draw together and develop existing sports integrity capabilities, knowledge and expertise. Commencing from July 2020, Sports Integrity Australia will support all sports integrity stakeholders to manage the spectrum of sports-integrity related issues. Its focus will be on regulation, monitoring and intelligence, and policy and program delivery, including education and outreach.
A version of this bill was introduced into the previous parliament. The election and subsequent need for reintroduction have allowed for additional consultation to be undertaken with stakeholders in both the private and public sectors. Changes to the bill since its first introduction include updates to the object of the act and to the CEO's functions and powers to better reflect the role and remit of the new agency, amendments to provide for better information-sharing by the new agency, and minor and consequential amendments to harmonise operation with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Enhancing Australia's Anti-Doping Capability) Bill 2019.
In February the government committed to the establishment of Sport Integrity Australia in response to the review of Australia's sports integrity arrangements, the Wood review. The Wood review is the most comprehensive examination of sports integrity arrangements ever undertaken in Australia, and it found sports are challenged by a range of mounting integrity threats.
As part of a second tranche of reforms, which are currently under development, Sport Integrity Australia will have an enhanced intelligence and investigations function focusing on a broader range of sport integrity matters, including match fixing. In the interim, Sport Integrity Australia will maintain a close working relationship with the Sports Betting Integrity Unit within the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, a joint initiative of the National Integrity of Sport Unit, the ACIC and Sport Australia. The ability for entities to share information with Sports Integrity Australia and for Sport Integrity Australia to provide, where appropriate, information to relevant entities will be critical to successfully delivering its important function to the Australian community. The legislation has been drafted to allow for this in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles.
The new agency will act as Australia's national antidoping organisation and in time will also act as Australia's national platform for the purposes of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, the Macolin convention, which was signed in January 2019 in a demonstration of this government's commitment to delivering critical sports integrity outcomes without delay.
The government released its response to the Wood review on 12 February 2019, committing to a range of important reforms, including the establishment of Sport Integrity Australia. The government's introduction of this bill is an important signal that this government remains firmly committed to protecting Australian sport from the increasingly sophisticated threats to its integrity. The amendments to the Privacy Act will bring Sport Integrity Australia within the definition of 'enforcement body', enabling stronger information intelligence sharing links with law enforcement agencies, allowing those organisations to disclose information to Sport Integrity Australia if the belief is formed that it would be necessary for the administration of anti-doping related activities.
The amendments to schedule 3 of the FOI Act exempt material from release under section 38 of the act where it is covered by the secrecy provision in the bill. While the FOI Act does provide some protection in relation to the release of material, including an athlete's personal health and medical information, it does not provide the same guarantees as the specific secrecy provisions under the proposed Sport Integrity Australia legislation.
Through this bill and the creation of Sport Integrity Australia, the sporting community will benefit from an organisation that is able to cohesively draw together existing sports integrity capabilities and nationally coordinate all elements of the sports integrity threat response through a single agency. And by the way: Bradman was born in Cootamundra. He played his first cricket in Bowral, and my dad played against him!