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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7618

Senator FIFIELD (1:03 PM) —I rise to speak on the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2009, which the opposition supports. This legislation primarily focuses on the governance of ASADA and the bill builds on the foundations which the former coalition government put in place to tackle doping in sport. The policies that the coalition developed ensured that ASADA built a strong international reputation as a world leader in best practice anti-doping regulations.

In 2006 the coalition replaced the Australian Sports Drug Agency with ASADA. This change was implemented by the then Minister for the Arts and Sport, the Hon. Rod Kemp. I should note that Mr Kemp is generally regarded as Australia’s best and most successful sporting minister ever. In saying that, I mean no disrespect to Senator Brandis and his tenure in that portfolio. Indeed one of the cruel twists of political fate was the premature end to Senator Brandis’s service in that portfolio. We can, sadly, wonder all we like, but we will never know whether Senator Brandis may have even perhaps eclipsed Mr Kemp in that portfolio. We can but wonder.

I do think Senator Brandis showed great promise during his brief tenure. Senator Brandis was also a great crusader against drugs in sport and I remember very fondly Senator Brandis urging the AFL to be even more rigorous in their anti-doping efforts and the TV footage of the high noon showdown between Senator Brandis, Mr Pyne and Mr Demetriou. For those of us from the state of Victoria, it is indeed a brave public figure who takes on the AFL, and can I just say there should be more of it.

The 2006 change was brought about because of the Anderson inquiry in 2004 into the Australian track cycling team. The coalition ensured that this new agency had strong powers to investigate and present cases as well as to exchange information with other enforcement agencies. The coalition provided an additional $2.24 million to ASADA in the 2007 budget to enhance its capacity to investigate instances of alleged doping violations and the subsequent preparation and submission of briefs in relation to individual cases, bringing the total funding to $12.9 million. Because of the work of the previous government, ASADA has earned a fine international reputation.

To ensure that our anti-doping efforts are as effective as possible ASADA, which is central to our fight against doping, must be operating at optimum capacity. A review of ASADA commissioned by the Department of Health and Ageing in 2008 found that this is not necessarily the case. The review found that the complex governance arrangements made it difficult to resolve disagreements between the ASADA chair, who was also the head of the agency, and the ASADA members.

I would also like to take the opportunity to note the great work being done by former federal minister and former New South Wales Premier John Fahey as head of the World Anti-Doping Agency. I think his position is a measure of how well regarded Australia is in the antidoping field. Again, credit goes to Senator Brandis for securing the election of Mr Fahey. Senator Brandis was able to deploy for good purpose all the skills of lobbying, negotiating and persuading that he developed within and between the factions and forums of the Liberal and National parties in Queensland.

Senator Brandis —All those dark arts!

Senator FIFIELD —That is right, Senator Brandis. It is nice to have one happy ending, isn’t it? This bill seeks to alter ASADA’s governance arrangements by ensuring that ASADA operates as a conventional FMA Act agency by removing its CAC Act elements. Just in reference to the CAC Act, we do need to find a new acronym in that place. This legislation will create a new CEO position with an advisory board, it will create an antidoping rule violation panel and it will make changes to the way the National Anti-Doping Scheme will be amended in the future.

In conclusion, the coalition regards this legislation as very straightforward. It goes to the governance of ASADA. ASADA has operated well in the past, but some governance problems have been identified and they need to be resolved. The opposition supports this legislation.