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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7576

Senator LUDWIG (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (10:14 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

I think all of us would agree that doping and drug cheats have no place in sport.

And the Australian Government is committed to the fight against doping—and is determined to ensure that performance enhancing drugs are detected, dealt with and deterred at every possible opportunity.

In a sports-loving country like Australia, a strong anti-doping system is essential to protect the integrity of our sporting competitions and to also protect our athletes from the potential harmful health effects of using prohibited substances and methods.

Furthermore, it is essential to protecting Australia’s reputation on the world stage and importantly protecting the value of fair play which sport so powerfully conveys to our children through our sporting heroes.

This Bill amends the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 (ASADA Act) to keep the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), Australia’s peak anti-doping in sport agency, at the fore front of global and local efforts to stamp out drug cheats.

Specifically the Bill reflects the need for new structural and governance arrangements to ensure the efficacy of ASADA’s anti-doping programs today and well into the future.

ASADA is the key implementation agency for Australia’s anti-doping efforts supporting the Australian Government in co-ordinating and harmonising anti- doping initiatives with States and Territories and of course with our national sporting organisations.

At the core of anti doping efforts in this country, ASADA’s responsibilities include detecting drug cheats and discouraging drug use through education programs, testing, investigations and enforcement.

The work of the organisation speaks for itself—in 2008/09 ASADA delivered 212 anti-doping education activities to 10,530 athletes and support personnel.

This included all Australian athletes that attended the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In support of these education activities ASADA also conducted 4,212 government-funded tests across 57 sports and 3,286 user-pays tests for Australian sporting bodies or other organisations.

Every one of these figures stands as a strong deterrent against performance enhancing drug use, and a warning to athletes that drug cheats will not be tolerated.

To ensure that ASADA has the best governance arrangements in place to continue to support Australia’s anti-doping efforts—at the end of 2008 I agreed to an independent review of the organisation to ensure that its governance model was the best fit for the current environment and for the future.

The independent review found that while ASADA was successfully delivering its core business, primarily the Government’s anti-doping agenda, education programs, testing, investigations and enforcement, the review made a number of recommendations to streamline ASADA’s internal processes and give it greater cohesion with which to perform its key functions in the future.

Established with bipartisan support in 2006, ASADA is a statutory authority established under the ASADA Act and its current governance model is a hybrid of that which would be conventionally associated with an FMA Agency and an agency established to comply with the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Its financial arrangements and accountability are determined by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) and its staffing arrangements are determined by the Public Service Act 1999.

This Bill delivers on the recommendations of the independent review to alter these governance arrangements to more closely align ASADA with a traditional model for an FMA Agency.

The following specific changes are introduced through this Bill.

Firstly, ASADA is to be solely headed by a CEO who will be responsible for operational and strategic matters.

The accountability framework for the CEO will be similar to a traditional FMA agency and is considered the best fit for ASADA’s activities now and into the future.

Secondly, under proposed new arrangements the current ASADA members structure will be replaced with a new model to ensure that the functions previously undertaken by ASADA members continue, for example, decisions on anti-doping rule violations.

To that end, provisions are being made for the establishment of a new independent Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel whose role will be to make decisions about anti-doping rule violations and recommendations about follow-up action and sanctions.

Decisions regarding an anti-doping rule violation are inherently sensitive.

To avoid any perception of conflict, the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel will not include among its membership the ASADA CEO, ASADA staff, or members of the new Advisory Group which I will come to shortly.

Such action ensures that the decision regarding an anti-doping rule violation is at arms length from Government and separate from the testing, investigative and prosecutorial functions of ASADA.

Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel members will be appointed by the Minister and must have skills or experience of relevance to sport anti-doping in one of the following areas:

sports medicine;

clinical pharmacology;

sports law;

ethics; or

investigative practices or techniques.

Thirdly, this Bill will establish an Advisory Group that will primarily be a consultative forum for the CEO on matters such as education, testing and investigations and provide advice to assist in the development, implementation and continuous improvement in the delivery of ASADA’s core business.

The Advisory Group will consist of a Chair and a small group of members comprising individuals with relevant skills in areas such as education and stakeholder services, sports medicine, sports law, ethics and investigations.

Further, this Bill also gives effect to incidental changes that are required to align the ASADA Act more closely with the World Anti-Doping Code which came into effect 1 January 2009.

Australia is committed to the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) through its ratification of the UNESCO International Convention Against Doping in Sport (the Convention). This includes the operation of policies and programs that seek to eliminate doping from sport.

It is therefore imperative that ASADA has an appropriate legislative framework and governance model to ensure that it can continue to deliver its internationally-renowned, targeted and coordinated anti-doping program, consistent with the Convention.

The Bill will also introduce changes to the mechanism by which the National Anti-Doping Scheme will be amended in the future.

Currently ASADA can amend all of the National Anti-Doping Scheme through a disallowable legislative instrument.

Under the new arrangements the CEO will still be able to make changes via a disallowable legislative instrument, but will be restricted to only those matters where it is critical for ASADA to respond quickly in order to ensure that Australia’s anti-doping regime continues to be aligned with the World Anti-Doping Code.

Finally, it is important to note that athletes will not be disadvantaged by the proposed amendments.

The changes do not impinge upon athletes’ rights, and all appropriate privacy safeguards continue to be maintained.

This means that in relation to ASADA’s decisions, athletes continue to have access to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.

The Privacy Act 1988 will also continue to apply to all of ASADA’s functions involving the collection and handling of personal information.

There is no doubt that when it comes to anti-doping in sport Australia is a world leader and these changes are necessary to ensure that this reputation is sustained well into the future.

Because while we lead the way on anti doping—it is critical that we do everything we can to ensure the bar is high when it comes to anti-doping standards—and that a tough, professional anti-doping agency is in place to enforce these standards.

And that’s why I urge the parliament to support this critical Bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Ludwig) adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for a later hour.