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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 14 January 2013: Cycling Australia review; MRRT; economy; single parent payments

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Minister for Sport, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation


Monday, 14 January 2013

Subjects: Cycling Australia review, MRRT, economy, single parent payments

E&OE - proof only

KATE LUNDY: I’m very pleased this morning to be able to release the review into Cycling Australia and I’m grateful to James Wood for his excellent consideration of these issues. The Government will be responding in full to the report in just a short while, but in the meantime I think we have a report that is full of constructive recommendations that will further strengthen the sport of cycling. And most importantly I am pleased to have acted to restore confidence in the sport of cycling through this review.

JOURNALIST: Will it do that?

KATE LUNDY: I believe it will. Obviously we’ve got a job ahead of us now to consider the recommendations. There are 16. They focus very strongly on governance and on the anti-doping regime. I'm particularly pleased with the focus on governance as that underlines the current work being undertaken by the Australian Sports Commission. They have good governance guidelines for all sports and I'm particularly keen to see governance of the sport of Cycling Australia strengthened.

JOURNALIST: Lance Armstrong's speaking to Oprah giving a tell-tale interview at the end of the week. Is there anything you would like him to say or what do you expect him to say?

KATE LUNDY: I think everybody who's passionate about the sport of cycling will be watching very closely and listening very closely to what Lance Armstrong has to say on the Oprah Winfrey interview. I think the most important thing here is we have a sport that is growing enormously each year - both at the participation end and the interest in elite cycling continues to grow - and our focus through this review, and consideration of the recommendations, is to make sure, to safeguard, the integrity of cycling in Australia.

JOURNALIST: Two of your top administrators in cycling have already resigned. Are you confident there are none left in Cycling Australia that have been involved in doping?

KATE LUNDY: Well, it will be up to ASADA to pursue any further inquiries about allegations of doping, but the recommendations in this review do relate to a process by which Cycling Australia can manage and deal with people who may have been involved in doping in the past. And in this way, this report has, I think, a lot of substance for other sports to potentially take a lead from in how to manage the issue of past involvement in doping through a process of declarations at the point of employment.

JOURNALIST: So do you think there is more involved for people who are currently involved in administration in the sport? Are you encouraging them to come forward?

KATE LUNDY: I would always encourage people who have been involved in doping in the past to come forward. What I want to see is a sport that has its integrity fully restored. I think its confidence was shaken, or the public's confidence in cycling was shaken, following the USADA revelations last year. And everything in this - everything I want to see come out of this review is about strengthening the integrity of Cycling Australia. And as I mentioned I think of the recommendations have some relevance to many sports and I would recommend all sports have a close look at this review.

JOURNALIST: Senator Lundy, if a naïve person was to read this they might look at it and say, well, why aren’t there already policies requiring staff to say they've been doping before they get a senior job and why does there need to be an integrity unit within a body that should have some integrity? How bad is Cycling Australia? Like, how bad has it gotten for these sort of basic steps to be included in a report?

KATE LUNDY: We've got comprehensive policies and programs in place. The Australian Anti-doping Authority (ASADA) is the body charged with overseeing the implementation of Australia's anti-doping regime. And each sport is required by the Australian Sports Commission to implement their own program. And what we can see here through the recommendations, are recommendations to strengthen the application of that. So I think it's reasonable to say that this review has identified weaknesses that can be strengthened through the course of the action that has been recommended. And we'll have an opportunity as a Government to work with both the Australian Sports Commission and ASADA, and indeed Cycling Australia, when we consider these recommendations and respond to them.

JOURNALIST: Is there a ballpark figure on how much the reforms are expected to cost? Is the Government prepared to loosen the purse strings?

KATE LUNDY: We haven't had the opportunity to absorb or consider these recommendations in detail. And of course we have a very well-funded ASADA. Our anti-doping authority and the programs within sport are overseen by the Australian Sports Commission. So I'm confident we have an excellent system, but I also warmly welcome these recommendations and look forward to analysing them in detail to see their application to Cycling Australia.

JOURNALIST: At this stage if more money is needed, is the Gillard Government prepared to give extra funding to ASADA and Cycling Australia?

KATE LUNDY: We’re always - we need to consider the recommendations and we're always open to how we can improve the integrity of sport. That’s our focus.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

KATE LUNDY: We've already been working with ASADA looking at ways in which we need to strengthen our anti-doping regulations in light of the USADA revelations last year as I mentioned. These recommendations I think reinforce the need for some improvement of ASADA's legislation and that is under ongoing consideration and something that I certainly will be responding to in the context of this report.

JOURNALIST: Until a few months ago, a national road coach and a board member of Cycling Australia were still involved in the sport. Would it be naïve to think that there are no more bad apples infecting the system?

KATE LUNDY: Well, one of the recommendations in this report goes to these very issues about how sports can manage the issue of potentially staff members, or representatives on leadership bodies, who have been involved in doping in the past, and I think that’s the strength of this report. It provides those constructive processes and recommendations to sports. As I mentioned though, we're yet to consider these recommendations in full. Today is about release the report, so everybody can absorb its contents and have a look at those recommendations and the detail and we will be responding.

JOURNALIST: When will you be responding?

KATE LUNDY: Look, it will be weeks, not months. This report obviously is very topical. I think there are a lot of eyes on it. Certainly the feedback I’ve had across cycling in Australia, as I’ve said from the grassroots right through to elite levels, people want do see cycling in Australia cleaned up. They want their confidence restored and my focus is to make sure that the integrity of cycling in Australia is restored through this review.

JOURNALIST: Will they eliminate drug use in the sport, these recommendations, if they’re put in place?

KATE LUNDY: Our whole program of anti-doping in Australia is designed to eliminate doping use in sport. It's about clean sport. The report concludes with a very nice quote, which I won't attempt to read direct, but it reflects on the fact to be an elite athlete is about being the best you can be without cheating, it's about being the best you can be in focusing on your nutrition, getting a good night's sleep, getting the best possible training regime to be the best. And that should be the culture of sport in all countries and here in Australia we do have an excellent record. We were shocked by these revelations and that's why the focus is on improving the integrity and making sure that Australia's anti-doping regime is the best it can possibly be. We've been leaders in the world in this area for a long time now, including with the establishment of the anti-doping regime and our involvement in the development of the development of the WADA code - the international anti-doping code. And these things we're very proud of, and I'm glad we were able to act so swiftly with the commissioning of this review. I'm pleased to receive the recommendations and I will be responding to them as soon as I'm able.

JOURNALIST: Senator Lundy, this was a pretty major report and Wood only began looking at it in November. Do you think a thorough enough job can be done in that short amount of time?

KATE LUNDY: Yes, I do. I think the issues have been explored fully, they respond thoroughly to the terms of reference. We do need to act swiftly. ASADA has also been conducting their work on ways in which we need to strengthen our anti-doping legislation post the USADA revelations. So all of these things, all of this work, I think contributes significantly to a timely response to recent challenges.

JOURNALIST: And do you think cycling is sort of alone in Australian sport in being, you know, having people running the sport that were dopers themselves and you know, allegations of doping within the sport? Are there are other sports we need to look at? Clean up?

KATE LUNDY: Look, I’m not in a position to comment on that at all. All allegations of course are referred to ASADA as the appropriate authority. But I do think that this report has some relevance in a number of aspects to all sport. And I would encourage all sports to read this review. There may be some aspects of it that have relevance to how they could too strengthen their regime and particular I know the Australian Sports Commission is very interested in the contents of this review. It complements much of their work with promoting good governance guidelines and working with

sports to strengthen their governance structures. But also, it complements I think very strongly our recently announced Winning Edge strategy designed to make sure our high performance programs of sport are of the highest possible integrity and the most effective in achieving their goals.

JOURNALIST: Minister, would you be disappointed if the mining tax didn't bring in any revenue for yet another quarter?

KATE LUNDY: So, I take it questions about the ASADA issue and the cycling review have concluded? Okay, look I think that these taxes are designed to draw in revenue where they're able. I don't think we should get preoccupied by a month-by-month or quarter-by-quarter blow on their capacity to produce that kind of revenue. Our economy is in great shape - thanks to the work of the Labor Government and it will continue to remain strong in the context of a difficult global period.

JOURNALIST: How do you pay for things like an NDIS if you can't … [inaudible]

KATE LUNDY: We have an economy that's in the best possible shape. We are managing the fiscal challenges we’re currently confronting. But when you look at the achievements of the Gillard Government right across the board, the implementation of substantial reforms that help our economy gear itself for a very strong future, we're in the best possible place we could expect to be given global economic circumstances.

JOURNALIST: Senator, the Centrelink bungle today, does that put single parents under undue stress and pressure?

KATE LUNDY: Well, I understand that that problem has been fixed and everybody who received that letter will be notified and that correction made. So I understand that that problem is completely under control.

JOURNALIST: But … [inaudible] … cut up their card?

KATE LUNDY: Well, I understand that they will be contacted, that families will be contacted, and the problem fixed. Alright, thank you very much everybody. For those interested I'm about to go upstairs to launch the exhibition about the Centenary of Canberra and the stone-laying events. It's one of the Canberra centenary event if you're interested. It's up in the public gallery.