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Community Affairs Legislation Committee
Australian Sports Commission

Australian Sports Commission

CHAIR: We will resume the hearings with outcome 3, sport and recreation, which includes the Australian Sports Commission and ASADA. I apologise to ASADA for their late calling to these hearings. Obviously, it would be better if agencies were given longer lead times, but we will get started. Do you have an opening statement?

Senator Scullion: Can I state the obvious: I'm not Senator McKenzie.

CHAIR: Really!

Senator Scullion: I'm here in her stead. She is currently engaged in her cabinet responsibilities, and I will be taking her place until such time as she's available to return.

CHAIR: It's good to see you here.

Senator FARRELL: I'm sure the Sports Commission appreciates the fact that they have an early start rather than being at the death knell.

Ms Palmer : Absolutely. Thank you.

Senator FARRELL: I'm sure that will result in far more enlightened discussion about sports. Minister, when did the sports minister realise she wasn't going to be available for this session?

Senator Scullion: I can't throw any light on that.

Senator FARRELL: Could you find out for us?

Senator Scullion: I know the circumstance that they're dealing with. I would imagine that it would be perhaps in the order of couple of days. You'll have an opportunity to speak with the senator when she returns. But I would make the point that—particularly when you have someone of the standing of Senator McKenzie, whose responsibilities, quite clearly, are well known—this is quite an ordinary and well-established convention in this place: another senator may take their place from time to time. I knew about it, and I can help you understand that I knew about it about half an hour before my appearance.

Senator FARRELL: But if the minister knew about it two days ago, and this is her first session as the new sports minister—and we've had four sports ministers in 12 months—I would have thought it would have just been courtesy to let the committee know that she was not going to be available and to, hopefully, reschedule it at a time that she was going to be available.

CHAIR: As chair, I will point out that we rescheduled this at the request of Labor senators.

Senator FARRELL: I understand that.

CHAIR: And something came up subsequently.

Senator FARRELL: Why wasn't the committee told about it? Why didn't the minister have the courtesy—the first that we hear that the new sports minister is not here to explain her portfolio is when the replacement minister gives us notice. Why were we not advised that this minister was not available to conduct her own estimates?

Senator Scullion: Can I say, Senator Farrell, a couple of things. First of all, I don't appreciate being verballed. There was no point asking me the question if you already knew, which you have stated on the record, that she knew two days ago.

Senator FARRELL: No, you said that.

Senator Scullion: No, I did not.

Senator FARRELL: What did you say, then?

Senator Scullion: I said it could have been up to a couple of days ago and you'll have to check with the minister. That is exactly what I said.

Senator FARRELL: Okay. Well—

Senator Scullion: No. Don't interrupt me, please. I indicated that I knew half an hour ago.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, but—

Senator Scullion: And I also indicated that the senator would be returning as soon as her other responsibilities had been dealt with, as is the convention. As we've just heard from the chairman, the change in arrangements were, in fact, a request of your own Labor Party. It's not for me to chastise anyone about providing information, if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, which appears to be a convention with the Labor Party. It it's clearly not a matter for me, mate.

Senator FARRELL: Please don't make straw men. My understanding was, you said that apparently the minister knew up to two days ago.

Senator Scullion: I've corrected that. You're misunderstanding. I've said, 'I don't know. It could have been up to a couple of days ago.' But I've indicated I knew half-an-hour ago.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, I know. If the minister knew up to two days ago—

Senator Scullion: I said, 'she may have done,' but she will be back and she will be able to clarify exactly when she knew.

Senator FARRELL: So what she's doing at the moment is more important than her first attendance at her estimates?

Senator Scullion: She has been attending. I have to say I've been—

Senator FARRELL: She hasn't attended sports—

Senator Scullion: She has been attending this estimate session.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, but she hasn't been attending. This is her portfolio.

Senator Scullion: And the allocation of the Sports Commission at this time, rather than when she would be here is, in fact, down to your colleagues, not down to her, because you set the agenda.

Senator FARRELL: But, if she knew up to two days ago—

Senator Scullion: No, she did not. I have not said that. Again, I would appreciate it if you don't verbal me again. I said, 'It may have been a couple of days ago,' which is a normal cabinet process.

Senator FARRELL: Can we find out?

Senator Scullion: I'm not across that. I advise you to check with the minister when she returns.

Senator FARRELL: Can you find out when she knew?

Senator Scullion: No, I can't. She will be back any minute and you'll be able to ask her yourself, if you're bothering to attend these estimates, Senator Farrell.

Senator FARRELL: What sort of comment is that, minister?

Senator Scullion: I'm not sure if you are here all the time.

Senator FARRELL: I am here at the appointed time when we're here to discuss sports.

Senator Scullion: I was indicating that, when she returns, you'll be able to ask her.

Senator FARRELL: You would expect the sports minister to be here as well to defend and explain the government's decisions on sport.

Senator Scullion: When sports was originally scheduled in this, before the Labor Party changed the scheduling, she may well have been here to answer questions.

Senator FARRELL: The Labor Party didn't change the schedule. The committee changed the schedule. I can't believe that the minister wasn't aware of the change.

CHAIR: I think we've got the agencies and the department here to answer questions. I think it's probably time—

Senator FARRELL: It would have been polite for the minister to let the shadow minister know that she wasn't going to be here. I think that would have been a simple matter of courtesy.

Senator Scullion: Well, I had half-an-hour's notice, and this is quite a standard process.

Senator FARRELL: Well, I would have appreciated 29 minutes of notice.

CHAIR: Can we get onto some questions, Senator Farrell?

Senator FARRELL: All right. The former minister, Greg Hunt, said that National Sport Plan was going to be released before 31 December 2017. Last estimates, Dr Studdert said a solid draft might be done by the end of 2018. This morning Rob Harris writes in the newspapers about the final report prepared for the Australian Sports Commission that, according to his article, will guide the release of the National Sport Plan. What's been the hold-up from the original time line?

Dr Studdert : I can probably answer that question in the first instance. The Sport Plan is currently tracking for release in the coming months. It's a matter for government, obviously. The report referred to this morning is a report on the consultations that were undertaken as part of the process of consulting broadly around the National Sport Plan and communities' interests and expectations and priorities around sport and physical activity. That report is now available publicly. It covers a very broad ranging set of issues and is an account to everyone as to what we have learnt in the process of developing that National Sport Plan.

Senator FARRELL: It's simply a summary of those people who chose to make submissions?

Dr Studdert : Exactly.

Senator FARRELL: Why wasn't it described as that in the article?

Dr Studdert : I think you'd have to ask the journalist that.

Senator FARRELL: No, somebody must have leaked the story to him. I'm sure he didn't just write it out of thin air. Somebody has told him about it. Why didn't whoever told him about it tell him that it was a summary of the submissions?

Dr Studdert : I wasn't involved in that process, so I couldn't—

Senator FARRELL: Who did leak it to him?

Dr Studdert : I believe the minister's office provided it to him.

Dr Studdert : I wasn't involved in that process, so I couldn't—

Senator FARRELL: Who did leak it to him?

Dr Studdert : I believe the minister's office provided it to him.

Senator FARRELL: Why didn't they tell? Is there anybody from the minister's office here?

Dr Studdert : I don't think they're on the witness list for this hearing.

Senator FARRELL: How fortunate. The Harris report today makes it sound like a collection of a lot of issues and ideas that, to be frank, have been around the place for a long time. Why has it taken a formal process of nearly a year for the government to start listening to things the sports sector and numerous reports have been saying for years?

Dr Studdert : I don't think it is correct to say it has taken the department a year to start listening. We have been listening since May last year when that announcement was made. The website for the National Sport Plan was opened up almost immediately, after that announcement, with an option for people to provide comments, and processes were initiated with a survey, consultations around the country, face to face, with a broad range of groups. So we've been listening pretty intensely for quite a while now. It's a complex and wide-ranging set of issues that have been raised.

Senator FARRELL: Nothing in it's new, is it? None of the ideas that are mentioned in this apparent summary of the consultations are new. All of them have been around the place for a while, haven't they?

Ms Palmer : The key to this has been the broad-ranging consultation across the industry in sport, health and education and many voices from around Australia. It's been a wonderful process. That's what's been unique about this. For the first time, we are exploring this and coming up with some common themes that will allow us to consider the future of sport in this country—and physical activity, of course.

Senator FARRELL: Which ideas that we read about in the newspaper, today, have been prioritised as part of the National Sport Plan?

Ms Palmer : The sports plan is now with government for consideration, but I can indicate some of the themes we are already addressing—for example, through the Sporting Schools program and the importance of movement literacy, which is a common theme in the report that was released. For us, that's something the government has been addressing over a long period of time. The chair, John Wiley, spoke this morning on radio about the importance of—

Senator FARRELL: Are they mentioned in the Harris article?

Ms Palmer : Who?

Senator FARRELL: The items you have mentioned—

Ms Palmer : Yes, about the importance of physical activity for children.

Senator FARRELL: So that's going to be a priority for the National Sport Plan?

Ms Palmer : Because the plan is with government, I can't—it's certainly a priority of the Australian Sports Commission and the role we play with sporting schools.

Senator FARRELL: So the government's got this collection of ideas. It's now considering that collection of ideas. Is that what you're saying?

Ms Palmer : Yes.

Senator FARRELL: And you've not given them any advice on what ought to be the priorities.

Ms Palmer : I've been fortunate to be part of the steering committee that formed the concept, the ideas, and reviewed the themes and helped develop the plan. I've been very fortunate to be involved in that process.

Senator FARRELL: Can you tell us what your recommendations have been for the priorities to the government?

Ms Palmer : No. I guess it's important to understand that the common themes that came through the consultation are the themes that we considered. Now, all of those themes are being considered by government as part of the plan.

Senator FARRELL: So the government is considering everything; they're not looking at any priorities.

Ms Palmer : They're looking at the whole plan.

Senator FARRELL: So every—

Dr Studdert : I think we can add that the government, at the time of the announcement that we're developing a National Sport Plan—

Senator FARRELL: Just remind me—was the minister back then Hunt, who made the announcement?

Dr Studdert : Minister Hunt, that's correct. He did outline four priorities for government. They were participation, prevention, performance and integrity, so we have worked along those themes. I think it is fair to say that a lot of the submissions provided were broadly consistent with those as being reflective of community priorities.

Senator FARRELL: So those four things you've just mentioned will be the priorities the government will be looking at out of this recommendation that has come forward.

Dr Studdert : It is the organising framework for a plan that will have a range of priorities within each of those pillars and the categories of initiatives that might be further developed.

Senator FARRELL: Given that Minister Hunt originally said we were going to get a report by the end of last year, what now do you expect to happen with this new report and what sort of time frame are we looking at?

Dr Studdert : In terms of the report that you've been referencing, that's now available for people to see. The plan—

Senator FARRELL: Where is that available?

Dr Studdert : It's on the National Sport Plan website.

Senator FARRELL: When was that released?

Dr Studdert : It was posted this morning.

Senator FARRELL: This morning. Right. Just before estimates.

Senator Scullion: Was that of help?

Senator FARRELL: I'm sure that's exactly why the report appeared this morning. You're smiling. Coincidence, is it?

Dr Studdert : You are asking about the National Sport Plan, are you?

Senator FARRELL: Yes, I am.

Dr Studdert : Given the extensive input we got on—

Senator FARRELL: I guess what I'm saying is, now that this report has been released, what is now going to happen? We were told that we were going to get a national sports plan by December last year. Obviously, we're not going to get that because that time has passed. Today the government releases what has been the collection of ideas as a result of their consultation process. What's the next step? How are we going to progress this to try and have some semblance of respect for the original time frames that the minister—time is ticking by and nothing's happening, and ministers are being replaced. There is a revolving door of ministers. When are we going to get some results rather than just new ministers—new ideas instead of new ministers?

Senator Scullion: I can only put up with so much, Chair. You've asked some questions; perhaps I can add something?

Senator FARRELL: Good.

Senator Scullion: This morning the consultations of the National Sport Plan were released. You said these aren't new ideas and your criticism of the broader sporting community, no doubt, will be taken into consideration by them.

Senator FARRELL: No, I'm not criticising the broader sporting community at all.

Senator Scullion: I'm sorry, Senator Farrell; I wonder if I could have a bit of protection here?

Senator FARRELL: I'm criticising the fact that the minister hasn't even bothered to turn up—

CHAIR: Senator Farrell!

Senator FARRELL: for her own estimates. That's what I'm criticising. There is no criticism of sports in what I've said. Please understand that.

CHAIR: You'll lose the call, Senator Farrell. Minister, you have the call.

Senator Scullion: Thank you, Chair. I was just indicating that Senator Farrell was saying, in here, there are no new ideas. I would remind the senator, these ideas all came from the sporting community.

Senator FARRELL: They've been pleading with the government for years about them.

Senator Scullion: I actually think the process that's been outlined, under the thematics that were put forward by Dr Studdert—prevention through physical activity, performance, participation and integrity. Those are the pillars, effectively, that are the formulaic way under which we asked people to make responses and put in their submissions. They've put in their submissions. Unsurprisingly, government are in lockstep with the sporting community about the sorts of things we're thinking about.

As I was indicating to the senator, when he says, 'There are no new ideas,' this isn't government; this is the result of consultation with the sporting public. As I said to Senator Farrell, he will have to take it up with them. This whole spurious notation of, 'Everything's a rotating door. Let's play politics'—no-one is interested, Senator Farrell—through you, Chair—in that sort of garbage. There is a great opportunity, here, to talk about the sorts of submissions that the wider sporting community have made. This is a significant piece of work that contextualises up-to-date information about their requirements into the Australian government's national sporting plan.

I would like to take this opportunity to place on record the government's appreciation of the work that's been done in putting forward these refreshed ideas as a part of the consultation process.

CHAIR: Thank you, Minister. Senator Farrell, do you have more questions?

Senator FARRELL: I do; thank you, Chair. What I was trying to find out is: what's going to happen next and what's the time line for finally getting a national sports plan?

Ms Beauchamp : Senator, I think you made a comment that nothing is happening. It's probably important to put on the record that a lot of work has happened—not just consultation, as the breadth of the document shows—in developing advice for government and working with government, in terms of prioritising the activities and proposals put forward as part of the consultation process. Some of the things that we need to look at are: Where are the current investments in sport? What are the states and territories doing? What are the national sporting organisations doing? What is the role of the Sports Commission? We've actually been working closely, as Ms Palmer has said, on developing advice and putting it to government, and it will go through the normal government decision-making processes.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, but you've got this report that you've leaked to Rob Harris today. Are you saying that's not the only thing that the government is giving consideration to in its sports plan?

Ms Beauchamp : I think any policy initiatives that are being undertaken by government take in a range of views, comments, evidence and the like, so this is absolutely informative in terms of development of the Sport Plan, but the government will take into account a whole range of issues.

Senator FARRELL: All right. What else are they looking at? What are the other things that are going to be funnelled into their consideration of the National Sport Plan?

Ms Beauchamp : I think I mentioned a couple of them, in terms of where the current investments are, the role of the states and territories, what national sporting organisations are doing, the focus of the Sports Commission and the evidence base that's before us. We'll be—

Senator FARRELL: So all of those things plus this leaked report will be what the government will consider as far its National Sport Plan; is that right?

Ms Beauchamp : It will be considering a range of issues. You keep referring to the 'leaked report'. The report has been posted on the website. I just want to make that very clear.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, but I'm assuming that if Mr Harris wrote the story and put it up he had advanced knowledge.

Ms Beauchamp : I'm just saying the report's available for everyone to see.

Senator FARRELL: I know, and it's a terrific coincidence when you might have expected some questions at estimates on the Sport Plan. I'm assuming—please correct me if I'm wrong—that Mr Harris had advanced knowledge, prior to the posting of the report on your website.

Senator Scullion: Perhaps that will be a question for when the minister returns.

Senator FARRELL: Yes. Have we had any updates? We're now almost halfway through sport. Is there any indication? Has the minister texted you to say when she might be here?

Senator Scullion: We have indeed started off the process. There's a while. Depending on what your interest is in sport, I suspect that's how long it will go for.

Senator FARRELL: Every question I've asked has been about sport, Minister. I think the implication—

Senator Scullion: This is the sport section of estimates; that's unsurprising, Senator. It would be useful to say that when we provide—which is possibly the case; you'll have to check it with the minister—a heads-up to journalists they don't actually print exactly what we'd like them to. We should bring you up-to-date on that, Senator—

Senator FARRELL: These smart alec comments don't really make a lot of sense. Surely you can make a point without these smart alec little comments?

Senator Scullion: It's the current environment.

Senator FARRELL: I know there are a lot of problems in the National Party at the moment, but you don't have to stoop to the bottom of the barrel.

Senator Scullion: It is a fact that this is likely to have been that somebody in the media would have been given a heads-up that this is coming out tomorrow. No doubt that journalist would have been provided with information from the—

Senator FARRELL: That's all I was saying, Minister. That's all I was saying.

Senator Scullion: And all I'm saying is that if you're questioning the differential between the information that was provided and what the journalist writes, that should be relatively unsurprising; sometimes we are not able to dictate what the media write.

Senator FARRELL: All right.

Senator Scullion: I don't think that should be surprising.

Senator FARRELL: Okay, Minister, when can the media expect a National Sport Plan from this government? When can the sporting community expect a National Sport Plan?

Senator Scullion: Clearly, at the end of the consultation phase of the development of the National Sport Plan the government will be taking all of these matters into consideration. I understand that it will be somewhere between mid-2018 and the end of the year. That's what's on the public record, and I expect the government to be able to adhere to that.

Senator FARRELL: Let's look at that issue of what's on the public record. When I checked last week—and I admit I haven't checked it today—on the National Sport Plan page of the Australian Sports Commission's website it said the final plan would be released mid-2018. You've just said that the report's going to be released somewhere between mid-2018 and the end of the year. Can somebody tell me when we expect to get this government's National Sport Plan?

Ms Beauchamp : I think we made it clear that obviously that's a decision for government. I think Dr Studdert said 'in the next few months'.

Senator FARRELL: Well, if we had the minister here, we could ask her, but we don't.

Ms Beauchamp : What's on the website in terms of mid-2018 is what we're targeting, but of course these are decisions for government.

CHAIR: I suspect she would give you the same answer as Minister Scullion has given you.

Senator Scullion: Mid-2018 appears to be what's on the public record, and the officer has just indicated that we don't see that there's any change in that.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, but your answer, Minister—and I'm happy to get the record checked—was somewhere between mid-2018 and the end of the year.

Senator Scullion: That's correct.

Senator FARRELL: That's quite a different time frame from what Ms Beauchamp has said of mid-2018. Which is it? There are two time lines there.

Senator Scullion: Ms Beauchamp has indicated that it would be around mid-2018 and she also went on to say that would be within the next couple of months to make that a tighter time frame.

Senator FARRELL: So we can tell the sports community, which has been waiting for this national sports plan with bated breath, that by mid-2018 we'll have a national sports plan. Is that correct?

Ms Beauchamp : That's the expectation, to repeat, but of course these are decisions for government.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, I understand that.

CHAIR: Senator Farrell, I'm not going to cut you off, but I'm conscious that Senator Leyonhjelm has questions for ASC and you have further questions for ASADA, so I just bring your attention to the time.

Senator FARRELL: Thank you. If the minister had turned up, we would have got through this a lot quicker. So we're aiming for a mid-2018 national sports plan. Will a draft of the final plan go out before the final announcement?

Dr Studdert : That's not the current plan, but of course again it's a matter for government how they want to finalise the plan.

Senator FARRELL: I'm sorry?

Dr Studdert : It's not in the current time line, but of course it is a matter for government how they want to finalise the plan.

Senator FARRELL: So, if there is no current plan for a final consultation document to go out, it may be that the government simply makes its announcement mid-2018 and we find out what the government's intentions are for the first time in that document?

Dr Studdert : I think that's correct. As I said earlier, the minister set the framework at the start of the process in terms of what the government's priorities were. I think that gives us a broad understanding of what the expectations are, and the community has responded to that in terms of the way consultations have been conducted and submissions have been provided.

Senator FARRELL: Okay. When the final plan is finally released, will there be an opportunity for consultation post the release of the plan?

Dr Studdert : I think that there is always consultation and liaison with stakeholders underway. I certainly think the Sports Commission could talk about their ongoing engagement involvement. Certainly in department and the office for sport that's an ongoing thing, and that continues to set priorities within particular programs. Ministers continue to hear from a large range of stakeholders, and that's always an evolving space in terms of how future priorities are set.

Ms Beauchamp : We would also expect that, as a portfolio, we very much involve key stakeholders with any implementation matters related to the plan.

Senator FARRELL: Okay. We'll wait with bated breath. Now I would like to ask some questions about the national sports lottery. Last estimates, Ms Palmer offered an in camera briefing on the modelling of the national sports lottery to both Senator Smith and me, and, of course, Ms Beauchamp, you withdrew that offer because the minister hadn't been briefed, which of course we understand. But I was surprised to read in my response to question on notice 1171 that, at the time of the response—that is 18 January this year, three months later—the department was still yet to brief the minister on the latest modelling. My first question is: Has that modelling now been completed?

Dr Studdert : In the issue of the national lottery there's been a range of advice and information that we have gathered in consultation with the commission. We have continued to keep the minister and the government informed about that, and ultimately decisions as to how that matter will proceed and what information is shared will be a matter for government.

Senator FARRELL: My question was quite a specific one: has the modelling been completed on the national sports lottery?

Dr Studdert : A set of modelling has been completed, but there's always the option to return for other modelling should the questions—

Senator FARRELL: Okay. Has the old minister being briefed about that modelling?

Dr Studdert : In broad terms, yes.

Senator FARRELL: Okay. When was she briefed?

Dr Studdert : I would have to check our records. We've done a lot of briefing with the new minister over the last couple of months. It's been a pretty intense and extensive set of issues that we've covered.

Senator FARRELL: Okay. Now that the minister has been briefed on the modelling for the national sports lottery, can Senator Smith and I take up the offer of an in camera briefing?

Ms Beauchamp : The options and viability of the lottery and associated modelling will form part of the government's consideration of the sports plan, so I would expect that a briefing for you before government considers the sports plan would not be appropriate.

Senator FARRELL: So, even though Ms Palmer was happy to give us a briefing and you said that it wasn't appropriate to do it before the minister was briefed, the minister has now been briefed and you are still refusing to give Senator Smith and me a briefing?

Ms Beauchamp : Sorry; it's not a matter of refusing. I just don't think it would be appropriate for a briefing to be provided to you if it is part of the development of a sports plan which is yet to be considered by government.

Senator FARRELL: Yes. Senator Smith and I had an offer of an in camera briefing once the minister had been advised about the modelling. That's now been done. Why is it not now possible for us to get our briefing?

Ms Beauchamp : At the last estimates that offer was withdrawn, and that continues and remains in place.

Senator FARRELL: But the offer was withdrawn because the minister had not been briefed, and we accepted that. That's a fair position. You can't tell us before the government. But the government has now been told, apparently. The minister does now know. Why can't Senator Smith and I have a briefing—an in camera briefing, not a public briefing. I can assure you anything you say won't appear in the newspaper with Rob Harris. I can give you that guarantee.

Ms Beauchamp : Just to repeat—and I think you confirmed—until government has had a briefing, broadly, in terms of the cabinet and decision-making on the sports plan, which includes looking at the viability and options around the lottery, then I don't we are in a position to brief you before we've briefed government.

CHAIR: Can I jump in there? We have a request to take some footage in the room. Everyone comfortable with that?

Senator FARRELL: Sure.

CHAIR: And, Senator Farrell, would you mind if Senator Leyonhjelm asked some questions now for a few minutes, and then we'll come back to you?

Senator FARRELL: Sure.

CHAIR: Senator Leyonhjelm, you have the call.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Thank you. I'm not sure if my questions are better directed at the department or the sports commission, so let me know. Here is just a general one to start with. Can you tell me what Australian taxpayers are getting in return to the funding for Olympic athletes in sports?

Ms Palmer : The funding of high-performance sport in this country is really critical to ensure that every young Australian in this country has the inspiration or aspiration to strive to represent their country. Without that investment, that would not happen. The return on that investment is in international reputation—our country competing with other countries around the world of the Olympic stage. I think that's really critical. And we do as a country do very well on the international stage. We've seen that recently at the Winter Olympics. We have an opportunity from an economic perspective around investment in high-performance sport to create roles or jobs in science, in medicine, in coaching and in high-performance directors, so it's an industry that's contributing billions of dollars to the Australian economy. So I think that's a really wonderful contribution to the Australian community.

Senator LEYONHJELM: The funding for the Olympic program has a specific cost to taxpayers, and you talked in general terms about what you think the value of that is. Do you have any objective measures of it?

Ms Beauchamp : Yes, we do.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Do you, for instance, look at TV ratings or medals or something like that?

Ms Palmer : There are a range of measures that we think are important, and medals are one of those things. We invest; we want to win. That's really very important. But it's also very important to celebrate the success of Australia in other ways, and I think that's been seen probably very strongly in this past winter Olympics, where we did win three medals, but the most significant moments for me—winning the medals were very significant moments; I shouldn't underestimate those—were when athletes like Scotty James stood on the podium and talked about what it meant to his community. In the media, we all saw him return to his primary school in Warrandyte and celebrate with hundreds of schoolchildren. I think they're the things that we must not lose sight of. This is about our community and how we engage them. The reality is that I believe it lifts their spirits. Not everyone is as close to sport as I am, but I see it that as really important about being an Australian.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Again, thinking in terms of what taxpayers are getting, has the return from recent Olympics gone up or down?

Ms Palmer : It's a good question. I know that the winter Olympics team matched previous performances. The exciting thing for us is the future because a lot of the athletes who were in the team are very young. As a country that doesn't have much snow, I think—

Senator FARRELL: I thought it gets more snow that Switzerland. Is that not true? Is that an urban myth?

Ms Palmer : I don’t know. I'll have to take that on notice! So we do measure that. Certainly, the Olympic Winter Institute, which is also supported by the AOC, uses their investment very wisely. They're very strategic and careful about where those funds are used. We'll be evaluating with them whether they are satisfied with their outcomes.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Do you think the return to taxpayers from the summer Olympics exceeds the return from the winter Olympics?

Ms Palmer : I think we should look at them as one and the same. They are major global events where Australia is represented. The winter Olympics and the sports that are part of that organisation receive levels of funding that are very similar to other sports that perform at that level. We use a formula that is dependent on not only the expected performances but also the needs of that sport to deliver on their outcomes. I don't think you can compare the summer Olympics to the winter Olympics. The only thing I would say about the winter Olympics is that these are athletes that are jumping three storeys in the air and hopefully landing on their feet. The contribution and the commitment that they make to their sport seems extraordinary in terms of the risks that they take.

Senator LEYONHJELM: I don't think anyone disputes that. Really, the question is: to what extent should taxpayers expect a return for having funded that?

Ms Palmer : Yes, absolutely.

Senator LEYONHJELM: That's the question—how does the amount of funding devoted to the winter Olympics and our involvement in the winter Olympics compare to our taxpayers' contribution and our involvement in the summer Olympics? And how do you judge the relative allocation?

Ms Palmer : It's very difficult, because the comparison is over 400 athletes in the summer Olympics and less than—I can't recall the number, but I can take it on notice—34 or 35 athletes in the winter Olympics.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Is the funding relative to the number of athletes?

Ms Palmer : Yes, it is comparative.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Can you see a relationship between the funding in the first instance and the eventual return to taxpayers?

Ms Palmer : Absolutely. We've seen other countries in the world that invest significantly higher levels of funding, but we also saw quite an extraordinary example of performance from Norway this year which has a small population but a very high level of investment. Their medal return, their performance, at the Winter Olympics was astonishing, to say the least.

CHAIR: More or less than Australia?

Ms Palmer : Lots more.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Yes, they got a lot more medals, anyway. If you consider the return to taxpayers in terms of medals, there is certainly something tangible. There's no question about it. Where I'm heading with this is: do you consider that the taxpayer funding that you direct to the Olympic sports provides a better return to taxpayers than the same amount directed to something else? You could even go outside of sport and say: what about supplementary funding for the Family Court? How would you answer the question: why should the money be devoted to Olympic sports when Family Court is underfunded, for example? How do you address that sort of question.

Ms Palmer : We have, through the BCG Intergenerational report evidence that, for every dollar that's invested in sport in this country, we have a $7 return on improved health in our community. You can't separate high-performance sport from participation. There's a continuum. You need a large pool of participation at the lower end. In the arts, in music, in painting, we want Australians to be able to aspire to be the best, and the best not only in Australia but in the world. It's an investment in the system, separating out and comparing other investments—

Senator LEYONHJELM: You scare the hell out of me when you say things like: 'It's an investment in the system'.

Ms Beauchamp : Can I add to that? When you look at the role of sport in both the economy and the community, you're looking at sport accounting for approximately two per cent of GDP. You're looking at an input of about $13 billion per annum in sport, not only through jobs but volunteer organisation and community cohesion. So there are a lot of investments and a lot of benefits that come out of sport. The high-performance end is probably only a small element of government funding. I think we need to look at the broader picture around the contribution of sport to our economy.

Senator LEYONHJELM: That is a valid point. My questions were directed at the Olympic sports in particular and what taxpayer return is for investment in that field specifically. That's where I was aiming. It's a relatively small number of people; it's a relatively large amount of money, considering the number of individuals involved. Yes, we're all very pleased when someone wins a medal, but could the money be better directed somewhere else? And could we do without the feel-goods? That's my question.

Senator Scullion: Perhaps I could assist with that. The investment in elite athletes, as you indicated, has a very large base at the bottom, but there is the recognition that many people are inspired to join in this activity. If this activity provides a seven per cent increase in health benefits, there is a corresponding financial indicator to that, which I don't have to hand. That seven per cent increase in health benefits leads to an enormous amount of funding available to other matters, like the High Court and other things. So there is a direct correlation. We've talked about percentage benefit in health. I'm not familiar enough with this area to have made a direct correlation financially, but I'm sure it exists.

Senator LEYONHJELM: There is the argument that sport is good for you and that, if you engage in sport, you're likely to be more healthy and will therefore cost taxpayers less in terms of demands on the health system. I have no problem with that. My questions were specifically relating to the Olympic level.

Ms Palmer : And, as I previously indicated, the importance of representation for Australia internationally in global events is important for our reputation, for sport diplomacy, which is a cross-government responsibility, and for inspiring young people in this country. Sport is really core and a foundation in this country. Seeing our athletes able to aspire to represent their country is really critical. So, in terms of articulating a return on investment for dollars, we have looked at how we can measure that through the BCG intergenerational report, and it very clear about the outcomes, in not only health but education, and, broadly, around how we connect as communities.

Senator FARRELL: I take it we've not heard anything more about when Senator McKenzie might do us the courtesy of turning up, but I do note she has just tweeted about mobile black spot funding, saying that the regions matter. We would hope that at some point sports might matter, and she might turn up at this hearing. I would like to continue along the theme that Senator Leyonhjelm was talking about—funding for sports. I asked some questions about the national sports lottery, that thought bubble from Minister Hunt. We know that in October last year Minister Morrison, the Treasurer, confirmed that the government is planning to take a cut of online gambling taxes. He said, 'Any and all of the proceeds would be used to fund sports.' So we have these two competing ideas: the sports lottery, Minister Hunt's thought bubble; and the online gambling tax. Minister, can you tell me whether Minister McKenzie has been brought into the loop on the alternative sports funding plan?

Senator Scullion: I'll refer that to the department. I do know that it was dealt with in a submission to the consultation phase of the development of the National Sport Plan, which was part of funding. No doubt the minister will be taking those matters into consideration, because it's a view from the sporting community about the future of funding. As to those two alternatives, I would look to the department to provide some further information.

Ms Beauchamp : I think Minister McKenzie is well aware of the Treasurer's views, obviously, on that. Any questions directly related to online gambling and the Treasury work would need to be directed to the Treasury, but I don't see the lottery or the online gambling as necessarily mutually exclusive. You may call them 'thought bubbles', but, quite rightly, the portfolio and the government are looking at any innovative options to fund sport in the future, and so that's part of the considerations.

Senator FARRELL: I certainly got the impression at the last estimates that they were alternatives. Ms Beauchamp, are you now saying that the government might proceed with both a national sports lottery and an online gambling tax for sports?

Ms Beauchamp : I would prefer to call them options rather than alternatives.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, but if they're options, then 'options' suggests one or the other. I thought from your comment just a moment ago—and please correct me if I've misunderstood you—that you were saying the government may now consider proceeding with both a national sports lottery and an online gambling tax for sport?

Ms Beauchamp : I think I said that the government was looking at all options to fund sport in the longer term, and the two issues you've raised are two options that are being looked at.

Senator FARRELL: Yes, but options suggest one or the other?

Ms Beauchamp : I'm not suggesting one or the other or both.

Senator FARRELL: So it might be neither?

Ms Beauchamp : Or it could be both.

Senator FARRELL: So it could be both. That's what I'm asking you—the government could introduce both a national sports lottery and an online gambling tax for sport?

Ms Beauchamp : These will be decisions for government. From my point of view, in terms of providing advice, you wouldn't want to rule one out or rule the other out, and in terms of the Treasury working on that online gambling, those questions should be directed to the Treasury.

Senator FARRELL: So, Treasury hasn't consulted you at all about the online gambling tax?

Ms Beauchamp : I'm aware and the department is aware of work that has been undertaken through Heads of Treasuries and the states and territories around online gambling.

Senator FARRELL: Have you been involved? Have you given some advice about sports?

Ms Beauchamp : We do talk to Treasury, and of course the development of the Sports Plan will be a whole-of-government issue, and I would expect all relevant agencies to be involved.

Senator FARRELL: The minister has arrived! Welcome, Minister. Congratulations.

Senator McKenzie: I think you'll like what I've been able to get through that cabinet subcommittee.

Senator FARRELL: You're going to tell us, are you?

CHAIR: He won't, Senator; he won't.

Senator McKenzie: I think he will.

CHAIR: You reckon? Welcome back, Minister.

Senator FARRELL: I note you wanted to get onto ASADA, Chair—if we could move to them now?

CHAIR: Yes, okay. Are we finished with the Australian Sports Commission, then?

Senator FARRELL: Yes.

CHAIR: Thank you very much for your attendance, Ms Palmer. Could ASADA come forward, please.