Senate debates

Monday, 24 February 2020


Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity Australia) Bill 2019; Second Reading

8:16 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

What a nerve, for this government to be introducing a bill in this place entitled 'Sport Integrity Australia'! What chutzpah, while it is in the midst of a massive corruption scandal over sports rorts! Introducing this bill just serves to underline how it's a matter of: 'Do as I say, not as I do; don't watch what's going on.' We've got a government that has shown absolutely no integrity over this issue, right up to the Prime Minister. He's refused to answer questions about his role in the sport rorts affair and whether he was aware of the role his office played. We've got a report by his former chief of staff, now the head of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, which has not been made public—and I'm flagging that we Greens are going to be asking for the Gaetjens report again this week. Sports integrity matters and examining the standards that are set out in this legislation only serve to highlight the hypocrisy of this government. While this legislation talks of integrity, ethics and values that promote confidence in sport, those opposite are rorting the system. They are pork-barrelling, through sports rorts 1 and sports rorts 2—a quarter of a billion dollars in rorting the system, undermining integrity in sport!

But, to this bill—the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity Australia) Bill 2019 establishes Sport Integrity Australia, which will be a single body to administer and coordinate the work necessary to prevent and address threats to sports integrity in Australia. This follows, of course, the review of Australia's sports integrity arrangements, or the Wood review. In response to the Wood review, the government has adopted a two-stage approach: the first stage establishes Sport Integrity Australia, and a second stage will establish the sport integrity capabilities that the Wood review proposed, including a joint investigations and intelligence unit, a strategic analysis unit and the transfer of sports gambling work from the Sports Betting Integrity Unit of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to Sport Integrity Australia. This bill will abolish ASADA, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, and create Sport Integrity Australia. It will expand the functions of the CEO of Sport Integrity Australia to include broader sports integrity functions and will create an advisory council.

Overall, the Greens are supportive of what this bill aims to do, however, there are a number of concerns that have been raised about the measures that are covered in this bill that we remain concerned about. Some submissions that were made on this bill, including that of Dr Annette Greenhow, noted that the bill will rely on the external affairs powers under the Constitution—although Australia has not yet ratified the relevant agreement, the Macolin Convention. This seems to be something that really needs to be sorted out.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights notes that changes in this bill will engage the right to privacy. In particular, the committee notes that, 'No information has been provided as to why each exemption from the Privacy Act is required or proportionate.' The committee noted particular concerns about sharing personal information with overseas entities, and also noted that Sport Integrity Australia will have exemptions from the requirement to have individuals consent before collecting sensitive information in certain circumstances and to notify eligible data breaches where the CEO believes this would likely prejudice enforcement activities. These are very concerning issues that've been raised by the committee.

As I said, we support the establishment of Sport Integrity Australia, as recommended by the Wood review, but we remain deeply concern about these issues and we will be looking very closely to see how Sport Integrity Australia ensures that it's respecting the right to privacy in its actions.

Another crucial clause in the bill is related to defining integrity. Specifically, 'sports integrity' is defined in the bill as 'the manifestation of the ethics and values that promote confidence in sport'. Sadly, again, returning to my theme at the beginning, the government has, in its actions over the last month, undermined confidence in sport precisely by failing to display ethics and values in its handling of funding. The issues around the sports rorts are not going away. We have another hearing of our Senate inquiry later this week and we will continue to prosecute this issue, because it is undermining integrity. It is undermining the confidence that people can have in sports.

I note here that we think, as part of the package of saying that we are concerned about integrity in sport, that the government really needs to make some amends when it comes to the sports rorts. A good start would be to fund the deserving clubs that missed out on funding. Those clubs that would have been funded if it had been a level playing field, if the sports values of fairness and a fair go for all had actually been followed.

The other thing that would be good to indicate that the government was really concerned about integrity in sport would be for the Prime Minister to provide a full and honest account of the role that his office played in administering these grants. These are issues that we will certainly be continuing to explore in the Senate committee.

This bill today is part of a package of bills that the government is introducing to implement the Wood review recommendations. We have also been examining, through the community affairs committee, another piece of legislation that the coalition has proposed—and the committee report was tabled just this afternoon. This is the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Enhancing Australia's Anti-Doping Capability) Bill. I want to talk a little bit about some of our concerns with that bill. Although we have got concerns with this Sport Integrity Australia bill, which is here before us today, overall we think it is a piece of legislation that needs to be supported. But the next bit of legislation that the government is introducing, we think, has got far more problems and once again shows that the balance is not quite right when it comes to making sure that we've got integrity in sport and making sure that people can be assured that there is fairness, that there aren't doping violations going on. But at the same time we need to be protecting the rights of athletes. We believe that basic human rights are important, and there is a long recognised common law right to not self-incriminate. The next bit of legislation that the committee report submitted this afternoon, and our dissenting report to that, highlights that this is a big issue with that legislation: the common-law right to not self-incriminate.

I'd like to quote my colleague Senator Di Natale, sitting just behind me today, when he spoke on this issue back in 2013, when we Greens successfully amended the ASADA amendment bill that was before the Senate, then, in order to ensure the protection of the right to not self-incriminate. Senator Di Natale said:

We are talking about athletes here, some of them are young kids, they are not going to be familiar with detailed legal processes, they should be able to compete and know that if ASADA does want to question them about something that they are afforded the same rights they would be if they were questioned by the police or by some other legal jurisdiction.

We will have more to say on this issue when we are debating the enhancing capability bill. But we are very concerned with the approach being proposed by the government in the sports portfolios.

We've raised these concerns in a number of contexts already. We have raised them in the dissenting report that was tabled this afternoon. I think it is very sad but perhaps typical of the coalition to be taking away human rights, even in the sports portfolio, while, at the same time, they themselves are rorting a community sports program and violating community trust. Some of our other concerns are expanding the powers of ASADA when there is quite considerable evidence of ASADA overreaching and overusing their existing powers—intimidating athletes who, in the end, are innocent, overstepping the mark and putting athletes through hell while they're doing that.

The next bit of legislation that we're going to be looking at will give ASADA even more power. They will be able to bring in an athlete for questioning and make them jump through hoops and put them through huge issues—basically putting them through hell—not on the basis of a reasonable belief but only that they reasonably suspect. And what does it mean to reasonably suspect that somebody is guilty of a doping violation? Basically, it could just be a hunch. So we are very concerned about that. Similarly, this next bit of legislation is going to be removing the right for athletes to appeal to the AAT, which we don't think is appropriate, and make it harder for athletes to access information relevant to them.

We are concerned. On the one hand, we've got good rationale for making sure that we have a system where there is integrity in sport. On the other hand, we've got a government that is not leading by example. We've got really significant concerns about how this coalition government can have any pretence to be overseeing integrity in sports. They have already overseen political corruption in the sports rorts scandal. There has been a corrupt coalition cover-up over the Gaetjens report. So I now move a second reading amendment to this legislation to reflect those concerns:

At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate:

(a) notes that:

  (i) the provision of adequate sporting infrastructure will assist Sports Integrity Australia in meeting its education and outreach goals,

  (ii) an evaluation of the Community Sport Infrastructure Program by the Australian National Audit Office found that 'the award of funding reflected the approach documented by the Minister's Office of focusing on 'marginal' electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be 'targeted' by the Coalition at the 2019 Election. Applications from projects located in those electorates were more successful in being awarded funding than if funding was allocated on the basis of merit assessed against the published program guidelines', and

  (iii) the Government, including the former Minister for Sport, has not displayed ethics and values that promote community confidence in sport; and

(b) calls on the Government to provide an honest, comprehensive account of the role the Prime Minister's office played in allocating these grants".


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