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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2073

Senator McGAURAN —I direct my question to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. I refer the minister to comments made in the other chamber last night by the honourable member for McEwen, Mr Cleeland, regarding the AFL Commission and its director, Mr Ross Oakley. Will the minister categorically deny the allegations raised by his colleague that the commission is profiteering at the community's expense and that its director, Mr Ross Oakley, has pursued improper management practices? Will the minister call off the war which the Victorian Labor Party is waging against Mr Oakley and the commission for no constructive reason other than its own self-interest?

Senator FAULKNER —As a matter of fact, I am aware of the comments that were made by the honourable member for McEwen in the House of Representatives last night, and the recent comments made by the Victorian leader of the opposition, Mr Brumby, on the issue of the level of ticket prices for AFL matches.

  I understand that Mr Cleeland and Mr Brumby are concerned about the affordability of AFL matches for the ordinary punters and their families in Melbourne who have traditionally attended AFL matches. I understand that the prices of the finals tickets and those of the Football Record have gone up well in excess of the consumer price index. From that perspective, I have no problems at all with the comments made by Mr Cleeland in the House of Representatives.

  However, I should make it very clear to Senator McGauran that my role as the Commonwealth minister for sport does not extend to any responsibility for the ticket prices charged by the AFL. That responsibility rests and has always rested with the AFL.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Why don't you slip up to Queensland and sort the lefties out?

Senator FAULKNER —I will do that when I get the chance. I am sure that Mr Cleeland and Mr Brumby understand what the responsibility of the minister for sport is, even if Senator McGauran does not understand that simple responsibility. The Commonwealth responsibility, as far as the sport of Australian football is concerned, is limited to support for junior development in the sport, and I know that that support is welcomed by the Australian Football League.

Senator McGAURAN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for his answer but, as he would well know, Mr Cleeland's comments went much further than the price of AFL tickets. Does the minister believe that the orchestrated attack on the AFL by elements of the federal and Victorian Labor parties has the potential to seriously injure the credibility of the administration of the AFL and, if so, will he, as minister, intervene to protect the public credibility of one of Australia's premier sporting and cultural activities?

Senator FAULKNER —I have tried to make clear—but obviously Senator McGauran does not understand—that I have no responsibility for that particular matter. What Senator McGauran asks of me as the Commonwealth minister for sport concerns an area in which I have no authority. I have nothing to add to the comments I have made in answer to his previous question.