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Tuesday, 23 August 1994
Page: 31

Senator CAMPBELL —I move:

  That business of the Senate notice of motion No. 6, standing in the name of Senator Campbell and relating to the reference of a matter to the Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts, be postponed until 17 October.

I seek leave to make a short statement.

  Leave granted.

Senator CAMPBELL —The notice of motion relates to referring the following matter to the environment, recreation and the arts committee: `The role of national sporting coaches in the international transfer of Australian players, with particular reference to matters relating to player transfers in the sport of soccer and the involvement of the national soccer coach, Mr Thompson'.

  Honourable senators may be aware that currently an inquiry is being undertaken by the Australian Soccer Federation, headed by Mr Justice Stewart, into some of these matters. A number of honourable senators are concerned about the allegations raised both in a Four Corners programs and in subsequent press articles. We certainly genuinely hope that the Australian Soccer Federation's inquiry is able to get to the bottom of these matters and to bring down a report that helps the sport of soccer and those who participate in it, those who administrate it and those who coach it.

  Notice was given that a motion would be moved to hold a Senate inquiry because there were genuine concerns from soccer players that there may well be reprisals against them if they gave evidence and, worse, that any matters relating to potential libels or slanders that may occur at the current inquiry could incur legal action in respect of soccer players who gave evidence. The Australian Soccer Federation has, to a certain extent, met some of those concerns.

  Having discussed this issue with the Australian Democrats, we have both agreed that it would be better that the ASF inquiry ran its course. It is due to report in October and there is due to be a response to that report on 10 October. So we are seeking to defer this reference to the environment, recreation and arts committee until after that date to allow that inquiry to run its course.

  However, I want to stress that we have very grave and serious concerns about the allegations that have been raised. We are not prepared to have this potential inquiry by the Senate standing committee shelved. We want to ensure that that reference stays, but that the Senate considers the matter after the Australian Soccer Federation inquiry has brought down its findings. The Senate will reserve its judgment as to the timing of the inquiry that I have given notice of until that time.