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Table Of Contents
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- Start of Business
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Home and Community Care
(Ms MACKLIN, Mrs MOYLAN)
(Mr SINCLAIR, Mr DOWNER)
Workplace Relations Legislation
(Ms ELLIS, Mrs MOYLAN)
Bank Fees and Charges
(Ms GAMBARO, Mr COSTELLO)
Workplace Relations Legislation
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mrs MOYLAN)
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(Mr BOB BALDWIN, Mr TIM FISCHER)
Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme
(Mr CREAN, Mr ANDERSON)
DAS Regional Offices
(Mr ENTSCH, Mr JULL)
Research and Development
(Mr MARTYN EVANS, Mr McGAURAN)
(Mr McARTHUR, Mr WARWICK SMITH)
(Mr FILING, Mr PROSSER)
Apprenticeships and Traineeships
(Mr NEVILLE, Dr KEMP)
Logging and Woodchipping
(Dr LAWRENCE, Mr ANDERSON)
Hospital Services for Veterans
(Dr NELSON, Mr BRUCE SCOTT)
(Mr LATHAM, Mr ANDERSON)
- Home and Community Care
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- SYDNEY 2000 GAMES INDICIA AND IMAGES PROTECTION BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN SPORTS DRUG AGENCY AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT GRANTS AMENDMENT (No. 1) BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION (REPEAL, TRANSITIONAL AND MISCELLANEOUS) BILL 1996
- CUSTOMS AND EXCISE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 1996
- HOUSING ASSISTANCE BILL 1996
- BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE
- TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 1996
- WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- Start of Business
- SYDNEY 2000 GAMES (INDICIA AND IMAGES) PROTECTION BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN SPORTS DRUG AGENCY AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- CRIMES AMENDMENT (CONTROLLED OPERATIONS) BILL 1996
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Truck Dock Pty Ltd and National Hearing Aid Systems Pty Ltd: Shareholders
(Mr Rocher, Dr Wooldridge)
(Mr McClelland, Dr Wooldridge)
PAYE and Other Taxpayers
(Mr Eoin Cameron, Mr Costello)
(Mr Rocher, Dr Wooldridge)
The Treasury Staff: Electoral Division of Wills
(Mr Kelvin Thomson, Mr Costello)
Medicare Services: Electoral Division of Wills
(Mr Kelvin Thomson, Dr Wooldridge)
Delayed Payments to Claimants
(Mr Rocher, Dr Wooldridge)
- Mr Filing, Mrs Moylan
Medicare Offices: Staff Numbers
(Mr Price, Dr Wooldridge)
(Mr Pyne , Dr Wooldridge)
Workers' Compensation Claims: Delays
(Mr Cobb, Dr Wooldridge)
- Truck Dock Pty Ltd and National Hearing Aid Systems Pty Ltd: Shareholders
Thursday, 20 June 1996
Mr MARTIN(11.15 a.m.) —While we are in the mood for taking a very bipartisan approach to all matters associated with sport generally, let me indicate to the honourable the Minister for Sport, Territories and Local Government (Mr Warwick Smith) at the outset that the opposition wholeheartedly supports this particular legislation, the Australian Sports Drug Agency Amendment Bill 1996, as well. I am particularly delighted to be speaking in support of the legislation.
Ever since the Australian Sports Drug Agency was established in 1990, each time some legislation has come before this parliament I have taken an opportunity to speak in support of it. I have done so because at the time when there was a Senate committee—or it might even have been the drugs in sport inquiry, which was chaired by Senator John Black from Queensland—I was chairing another inquiry in the House of Representatives into the funding and administration of sport.
There was a degree of overlap in there, and occasionally there was a little bit of confusion about which committee was actually responsible for what part. But at the end of the day, the drugs in sport report, which came down in May 1990, saw the Australian Sports Drug Agency established. In the Department of the Parliamentary Library Parliamentary Research Service brief, Bills Digest No. 103 of 1995-96, entitled `The Australian Sports Drug Agency Amendment Bill 1996'—and I go to that length so that I am not accused of stealing anybody else's words here—it indicates on page 2 that ASDA's mission is to ensure that Australian athletes are able to compete in sport which is free from banned doping practices. The agency's vision is to be one of the leading sports agencies in the world and to achieve excellence as a small statutory authority.
I have to say from personal experience—not by being tested, but by involvement through my rugby league club, through the rugby league generally and through a number of other sports—that that vision has been achieved now and is appropriate, and that its mission is also being achieved. As an organisation, it is at the leading edge and one which the rest of the world could look to. It is not a secret, and I am not saying anything to anybody in this room that is not already known, that Australians have always prided themselves on their athleticism, their love of sport and the fact that they had always wanted to see that they were competing on equal and drug-free terms.
One of the things that we have always championed in this country is drug-free sport. We have seen some fairly famous cases involving Australians where our credentials in this area have been open to scrutiny. The drugs in sport inquiry was largely started because of an Australian athlete who maintained that the caffeine level in his body was related to his intake of several cups of coffee before he participated in his event. As a result of that there were all sorts of activities undertaken at the time.
Most recently we have seen the Sam Riley case. Could you ever take a more Australian Australian, someone as dedicated as Sam Riley, somebody as a role model, and say that simply because she took a headache tablet that contained a banned substance, she deserved to be banned? Incidentally, as I understand it, the substance was not performance enhancing but was, in fact, exactly the opposite. It was something designed to slow down performance. Yet she was faced at one stage with a possible ban, and we have seen a ban being imposed on her coach.
Mr Slipper —I think it is outrageous.
Mr MARTIN —Given that Australia has been such a vocal opponent of drugs in sport, calling for testing when we saw the pictures of the Chinese swimming team, for example—I would not mind a couple of them playing for the Illawarra Steelers as front rowers, but they were swimmers—
Honourable members interjecting—
Mr MARTIN —When we saw them, we were actually critical of that. There is a view around that suggests that the international authorities thought that because an Australian was involved in this, they should make an example of her—`Let us just see how the Australians like it when a particular ruling is given against them'. I hope that the international authorities are bigger than that.
It is unfortunate that Sam's swimming coach has got to suffer that ban. It has been reduced, I know, but he still has that ban. Fortunately, he is still able to coach. But, whilst he might be in Atlanta, he is not going to be poolside, and that is a great shame. Fortunately for Australia, and fortunately for Sam Riley, she has been able to get above this and put it behind her. She is training extremely well. She was given an Order of Australia award in the recent announcements, which I think is a great recognition of a superb Australian. Yet she has had to go through so much.
The point is that what we in this country have done is matched the rhetoric of our absolute opposition to drugs in sport with some positive action. The government is to be commended for bringing this bill forward, because what it is doing is enhancing our ability to test not only Australian athletes but also those from overseas countries, and to put into place a number of arrangements which perhaps have existed in an informal sense.
In no way are we talking about infringing on the rights of athletes in some way. That is not what this is about at all. In fact, it is very clearly set out in the legislative base. Going through the clauses, one finds that it talks about the techniques of sample taking; who does the testing; if there is a positive test, how that is reported; processes so that, if someone has an intellectual disability of some kind, whoever is the guardian or parent is given the results of those tests; and so on. All of that is captured in here so that the rights of athletes are protected.
What we are doing is actually extending the ability of the Australian Sports Drug Agency to do what it does best: that is, ensure that people in all forms of sport in this country—from the highest competitive level to the most basic level—compete equally against each other, so that whoever wins the gold does so on the basis of natural ability and natural talent. That is something that we should all be delighted about.
As I have mentioned, I have had involvement with ASDA. On a number of occasions they came to check out, at random, clubs that are participating in the Australian Rugby League competition. Of course, my club—the Illawarra Steelers, of which I am still a director—is occasionally subjected to those testing procedures, and we see the ASDA people down in the dressing sheds waiting for the appropriate people to test. That is extended not only to the Australian Rugby League but also to the AFL, the National Soccer League, the National Basketball League and the Uncle Toby's Professional Ironman and Ironwoman Super Series.
That is important. As a parent, somebody who has kids involved in sport or somebody who is coaching a sporting team at home, what you want are role models who are going to be there as competitive athletes: people who are going to be out there striving, training hard and showing what it is like to be a competitive athlete without having to rely on banned substances to get across the line first. That is the sort of thing that we should be holding up to people, not the likes of failed pop stars who come back to Australia and say that they like taking drugs. That is not the sort of role model we are talking about. What we are talking about are Australian athletes—people like Sam Riley—who are out there and are clearly the sorts of role models that we want our children to emulate.
In terms of ASDA and its international initiatives, to again go to the brief provided by the Parliamentary Library, on page 3 there is a whole series of arrangements with foreign anti-doping bodies which have been approved under the principal act. They are required to maintain lists of who they are actually working with, and they are listed here: the British Council Doping Control Unit, the Canadian Centre for Drug-Free Sport, the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency and International Doping Tests Management.
I notice that we are also assisting China, at the present moment, in developing its anti-doping policies and testing procedures. I think that is quite appropriate. In fact, sport can be a very useful tool in assisting with the democratisation of countries where, perhaps, there are some concerns. I am not specifically talking about China in this case. Basically, if people in a sporting community understand—through coming to international meets and so on—the aspirations of other athletes and the types of environments in which other athletes participate, and see the freedoms that are involved, that can assist with political democratisation in their countries in a broader sense. I think that is quite an appropriate thing to do.
The fact that we in Australia have been able to assist so widely in developing drug testing programs, signing memoranda with a whole range of governments around the world to assist in that and entering into intergovernmental agreements is a great tribute to this country, to the past government and, certainly, to the present government that has taken these initiatives in bringing this legislation forward now.
I am not going to go into all the provisions that are contained in this because they have been adequately covered by the minister in his second reading speech. I would simply say, though, that we have to be ever vigilant. I say that because very recently—and I am not sure if honourable members saw this—a survey was done again of Australia's leading athletes and questions were put to them about drug usage. The one of greatest concern to me was that a very high proportion of Australia's leading athletes indicated that they had actually thought about using performance enhancing drugs. They had given it some thought because, like all athletes, like anybody in any business, if you are striving to be number one in what you want to do, clearly you make sacrifices.
Whether you are talking about elite athletes or whether you get down to the kids running around in the park or the kids running around in my Collegians under-14 rugby league team, they are striving to the best of their ability. But they get to a point where they suddenly say, `I really want to win this. Is there something more I can do? Is it just swimming the hundreds of laps each week up and down the pool? Is it the sessions in the gymnasium? Is it running hundreds of kilometres? Is it pedalling hundreds of kilometres?'
They ask if there is something more they might be able to do to compete against some of those competitors in other countries where you get a bit of a feeling, or pick up in dressing rooms around the world at international meets, that maybe they have done something additional, that maybe there is some new substance they have been able to take which is not able to be detected at this stage. Their performance is enhanced and therefore they get that little extra edge.
They are the things that do concern us. And the fact that this survey pointed out that a number of Australia's athletes were of the view that maybe they could at least think about doing it is a bit of a worry. But the fact is that we have ASDA doing a fabulous job. There is a commitment amongst Australian sporting organisations in this country to stamp this practice out and we have commitments at all levels of government to provide the facilities, the best possible training venues and assistance to travel overseas, which I know the honourable minister for sport supports through the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport.
Provided we have all those sorts of things, we are giving our athletes the chance. I think they recognise that this is the case. But I do just sound that warning that we have to be ever vigilant, because they put in those hours and efforts and if they think there may be something else they could do that would give them that ultimate reward, that gold medal in an Olympics or another championship somewhere, I think we have to be careful. The fact that, in this country, so few people do says something about Australian athletes. I can only commend them all. I can only echo the sentiments that most honourable members would express—that Australian athletes do it for themselves and for Australia. And I think that is quite appropriate.
The opposition does not oppose in any way any aspect of this legislation. It is an amendment because it is necessary to take what the Australian Sports Drug Agency is doing a step further. It provides some certainty and it provides protection for athletes. What it also does, though, is to again give a clear indication, not only to Australia's athletes but to organisations right around the world, that we are deadly serious about the fight against drugs in sport. We will do what is necessary to ensure that our athletes are clean, that they are participating on their natural ability and that what they want to seek is that ultimate reward, that gold medal, in whatever event they happen to be participating in.
In conclusion, I thank the minister for the way in which he has brought this bill before the parliament. I think it is important that it be given, as with the previous bill in relation to the Sydney 2000 Games, a speedy passage through here, through the House of Representatives and, indeed, through the Senate. It can then become law and the Australian Sports Drug Agency can continue to do the very fine work that it has done since its inception.