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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9821

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (20:39): I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Oxley on the Football Queensland licensing scheme. I am proud to say that I can support it and that is particularly tough for me with Football Queensland being based in my electorate. I have looked at this matter and when you have a draft notice from the ACCC you know that you are on the right track. It is unfortunate that the previous speaker, the member for Herbert, was not able to support it.

Every Australian would agree that club sport is a quintessential part of Australian culture. I see a football-playing member of the House opposite in the member for Forde and he would agree that it is arguably more important than the big clubs like the Roar or the Broncos, the Lions, the Reds or the Firebirds. Whilst it is important we have our teams to follow, club sport is going to touch more lives and is more important for our communities. It is a great way for men, women and children to get active, which is important, to stay fit and, more importantly, to learn social skills and to make friends. Sometimes friends we make in junior sport stay with us for the rest of our lives. Sport also teaches us to work as a team, to develop leadership skills and, very importantly, to learn how to lose. I know some people find it hard to accept when they have lost, but it is an important skill that we learn in sport.

Sport does not happen at the local level without many volunteers and coaches who give their time to help keep club sport alive. I particularly thank the coaches for my son's team, the under-6s, playing at El Salvador in Yeronga, and the great work they have done this season. That is why, with all those great features of local sport, the behaviour of Football Queensland seems so insulting to players, volunteers and parents. The ACCC has previously issued a competition law exemption which enables Football Queensland to require its member clubs to use only apparel and equipment from licensed suppliers. Suppliers purchase a licence from Football Queensland to supply gear, and clubs have limited options as to who they can purchase gear from. Known as third-line forcing, this arrangement must pass the public benefit test and deliver significant benefits to players and clubs that outweigh the higher costs of a closed market.

The government believes that competition in markets is the best way to ensure lower prices for consumers. Whether it be football gear or carbon pricing, we do believe in markets. The general rule is to err on the side of competition and, under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, businesses are prohibited from engaging in anti-competitive conduct. This act also prohibits organisations from requiring a purchaser to acquire goods or services from a particular third party except in cases such as this where the ACCC has issued a specific exemption.

The idea of licensing is that sporting organisations are able to raise revenue through licensing schemes to cover costs of administration and club development. On the face of it, this is good for sport because it does keep the money flowing for sporting administrators. However, as with any restricted market, the limited number of suppliers inflates the cost of football apparel, making it very expensive for those who just want to run around on the footy field. It was never the intention of the ACCC to make sport less accessible, especially in some of the poorer parts of my electorate, and in Australia. If these licensing arrangements are kept in place, it will mean that more Australians miss out on sport because they simply cannot afford the expensive sports apparel and equipment. We all know, if you have got young children, how important it is you wear what everyone else is wearing in sports gear.

The exorbitant licence fees also price smaller suppliers out of the market. Sports administrators are also free to increase licence fees at any time. But Football Queensland is yet to detail the benefits to my community. That is why I welcome the draft notice issued by the ACCC last week proposing to revoke the competition law exemption for Football Queensland. The ACCC are now seeking comments on this draft notice. I encourage Queenslanders to have their say.

Football Queensland also need to open up their books and show how their revenues are being used to benefit the code, particularly at the grassroots level. Is it to line the pockets of administrators? I am sure it is not. I am sure it would be about delivering tangible benefits to the football clubs in my electorate and the electorate of the member for Oxley. I commend the member for Oxley for having the courage to bring this matter to the attention of the parliament and I commend his motion to the House.