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Tuesday, 9 September 2003
Page: 14624

Senator LUNDY (3:09 PM) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by ministers to questions without notice asked today.

I would like to turn my comments to those answers provided by Senator Kemp. Firstly, I will take him to task on his pitiful attempt to misrepresent Labor's position with respect to the Gungahlin Drive extension. I stand by my challenge to this government that it has been Minister Kemp and Minister Tuckey, the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, who have sought to politicise the institutions of the National Capital Authority and the Australian Institute of Sport. That charge lays level at their feet, and it is their responsibility to try to work in a way that upholds the credit and the reputation of these institutions. Has that stopped this government from deliberately setting out to tarnish these institutions by politicising them? Absolutely not. Senator Kemp took on the task of politicising the AIS and the Sports Commission with great relish in a Senate estimates committee, where he first asked questions about the Gungahlin Drive extension and the impact on the AIS. The fact of the matter is that the proposed Gungahlin Drive extension did not go through the AIS, as Senator Kemp waxes lyrical in this chamber; it went around the AIS. The route that has now been approved goes around the AIS in a different direction on a different side. Both routes go around the AIS. When Senator Kemp stands up here and talks about the Gungahlin Drive extension going through the AIS and impacting on the AIS in a negative way, we know he is talking about his own political campaign. We know that because the ACT Labor government addressed all of the concerns raised by the AIS, and I say that the AIS was not allowed to say yes to the Labor government in the ACT. The AIS was politicised through the intervention of the minister. That is the situation, and it does not matter how much Senator Kemp or Minister Tuckey try to defend their roles. I think it is patently clear to every citizen of the ACT—to everyone in Canberra—that the coalition government likes to play games with the ACT, and it is absolutely unacceptable.

I will turn now to Senator Kemp's response on drugs in sport. It is worth having a very brief history lesson. Since the Liberal government began to oversee ASDA in 1996 when they were elected, the level of support offered to ASDA has declined in real terms. In 1995-96, 71 per cent of ASDA drug tests were government funded. In the last financial year, this number dropped to 57 per cent. This shows that user-pays testing has increased from 29 per cent in 1995-96 to 43 per cent in 2002-03. Whilst this is a commendable increase in itself, because it could have represented a significant increase in the number of tests, it has been accompanied by a decline in the number of publicly funded tests and is hardly a cause for celebration on those grounds. Despite the cutbacks, ASDA, to its credit—through its innovation and its good administration—has managed to keep pace with increasing world testing requirements by increasing the total number of tests conducted. It is very hard to give this government too much credit for the good work that is occurring at ASDA.

There is another illustration of the decline in support. Between 1995-96 and 2002-03, the total number of tests conducted by ASDA increased by 52 per cent, from 3,296 to 6,263, which is a terrific increase, but over the same period the percentage of government funds dedicated to testing decreased by 14 per cent. This indicates clearly that there is a question about the level of commitment to ASDA and the fight against drugs in sport. I have no doubt that greater pressure on ASDA to keep up with the challenge will continue. I urge the government to pay more attention to this. ASDA needs more resourcing to keep up the fight against drugs, and it does not seem to be forthcoming to the extent that is necessary for that fight to be real and meaningful.

Senator Kemp waxes lyrical about the WADA code, and I do recognise the government's efforts where they are deserved, but today Senator Kemp had the opportunity to explain exactly what was happening with the implementation of the WADA code and he chose to again say, `We are working with national sporting organisations, state governments and so forth.' We have heard that now for months. We want specifics. We want to know exactly what the government are doing. It is a question of government accountability. This is a very important issue. The statistics are showing a disappointing and concerning picture. Senator Kemp relinquished the opportunity today to restate his government's credentials on these matters. I am now seriously worried that they do not have those credentials, because Senator Kemp is incapable of articulating the simple steps that I asked him about in question time today. (Time expired)