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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7619

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector and Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion) (1:09 PM) —I thank Senator Fifield for the opposition’s support. I think we are at one in wanting to ensure that Australian sport continues to be played in a domain which is safe and equitable for all Australian athletes and their support personnel and to ensure that performance-enhancing drugs are detected, dealt with and deterred at every opportunity. It always amuses me to come and discover things about my colleagues in the chamber, and today I have discovered something about Senator Brandis’s dark arts that I will remember for another occasion.

The reforms in the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2009 will enable ASADA to continue to deliver its prescribed functions efficiently and effectively and to be well placed to handle the ever-changing challenges within the fight against drugs into the future. These reforms will provide greater clarity and transparency to the structural and governance arrangements of ASADA and provide an effective framework for the delivery of the Australian government’s antidoping priorities to ensure that Australia remains a world leader in the fight against drugs in sport. The bill brings ASADA’s governance arrangements into alignment, as Senator Fifield said, with those of a traditional model of Financial Management and Accountability Act, or FMA, agency. ASADA will remain an FMA agency but will cease to be a corporate entity with a legal identity separate from that of the Commonwealth. In addition, these changes will further deliver on recommendations of the independent review of ASADA, which sees ASADA being headed by a CEO who will be responsible for operational and strategic matters.

In line with the recommendations of the independent review, an advisory group will also be established to assist the CEO in the development, implementation and delivery of core business matters. The establishment of this advisory group will give the CEO access to individuals with specialist skills and knowledge to assist him or her on matters such as education, testing and investigation. The targeting of members’ skills and knowledge ensures that the advice and support that the advisory group provides are not only of the highest quality but also very appropriate to this challenging task.

Under the bill, the newly established antidoping rules violation panel will be responsible for making decisions on antidoping rule violations, recommendations about follow-up actions and sanctions. They will also be responsible for maintaining the register of these findings. The antidoping rule violation panel will consist of members with specialist knowledge and experience in sport law, ethics, medicine and pharmacology. Australian athletes and support personnel can be confident that the decisions regarding an antidoping rule violation will be at arm’s length not only from the government but also from ASADA, which is responsible for testing, investigation of possible rule violations and prosecution of such violations. The bill also gives effect to a number of other changes to ensure that the ASADA Act maintains consistency with the revisions of the World Anti-Doping Code, which came into effect on 1 January 2009. With those comments, I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.