PAT CONROY MP – PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA – AUSTRALIAN SPORTS ANTI-DOPING AUTHORITY AMENDMENT BILL (1)

PAT CONROY MP – PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA – AUSTRALIAN SPORTS ANTI-DOPING AUTHORITY AMENDMENT BILL (1)


I rise to speak on the Australian Sports Anti-Doping
Authority Amendment (Enhancing Australia’s Anti-Doping Capability) Bill 2019. I move:
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
Whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes that the Government’s
revolving door of sports ministers—no less than five (plus a briefly acting minister)
in just six years—have made ad hoc, one-off and non-ongoing funding announcements that
have made it extremely difficult for national sports organisations, such as the Australian
Sports Anti-Doping Authority, to make detailed plans beyond the constraints of a single budget
cycle, including for the enhancement of their own integrity capabilities”.
This bill seeks to strengthen Australia’s capability to prevent, detect and deal with
the issue of doping in sport. Australians value fair play and expect a level playing
field in sport. We’re inspired by the efforts of our sportspeople in local and international
competitions and on the international sporting stage. Their stories and achievements enhance
the reputation of Australian sport and our love for it.
The opposite is true when revelations of doping are reported. Doping undermines our ability
and our confidence in the integrity of sport and leads us to question whether the sporting
events we love to watch are really being contested on a level playing field. In government, Labor
recognised the need to upgrade and update Australia’s antidoping regime to keep up with
new and evolving risks. In 2012, the federal Labor government established the National
Integrity of Sport Unit, and in 2013 we passed legislation to strengthen the Australian Sports
Anti-Doping Authority’s powers. Sport doping threats have continued to evolve, so it’s
appropriate that Australia’s protective measures are regularly reviewed and, if required, updated.
In August 2017, in response to those ever-evolving risks, the government announced the review
of Australia’s sports integrity arrangements. Justice James Wood chaired the review panel
and the review came to be known as the Wood review. The government received the Wood review
report in March 2018 and released its response to the review in February this year. It is
a detailed and extensive review of nearly 300 pages containing 52 recommendations. Recommendation
No. 18 says: That ASADA’s regulatory role and engagement
with sports in relation to the audit and enforcement of sport’s compliance with anti-doping rules
and approved policies be enhanced by establishing regulatory compliance powers exercisable by
the proposed NSIC in collaboration with (and at the request of) the ASADA CEO.
This bill, to some extent, seeks to implement that recommendation. However, I note the review
also recommends retaining ASADA as Australia’s national antidoping organisation, whereas
the government has decided to bring antidoping operations under the umbrella of a new agency,
Sports Integrity Australia. That agency will be established by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping
Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity Australia) Bill 2019 in response to another recommendation
of the Wood review, which called for the establishment of a national sports integrity commission.
ASADA has said it supports the inclusion of antidoping activities in the remit of Sports
Integrity Australia, and that move is supported by the majority of Australia’s major sporting
organisations. Labor supports, in principle, measures designed to protect the integrity
of Australian sport and we will support the passage of this bill through the House of
Representatives. However, I note that this bill and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping
Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity Australia) Bill 2019 have been referred by the Senate
to the Community Affairs Committee for short inquiries, both reporting on 3 February next
year. While Labor supports the intent of the bill, we hope the committee inquiry process
will provide further opportunity for stakeholders to outline concerns relating to specific aspects
of the bill. Stakeholders have raised concerns around some aspects of this bill with the
shadow minister for sport, Senator Don Farrell. These concerns relate largely to the potential
for some aspects of the bill to unfairly impact on individual rights. I know Senator Farrell
has been in negotiations with the minister for sport, Senator Richard Colbeck, about
the stakeholder concerns, which include: the lowering of the threshold for a disclosure
notice from ‘reasonable belief’ to ‘reasonable suspicion’; the removal of the right to not
self-incriminate; and the protection granted to national sports organisations against civil
action. The intended purpose of each change in isolation is clear. However, concerned
stakeholders have suggested that potential unintended and cumulative impacts may erode
the fundamental rights of individual athletes beyond what is necessary to achieve the intent
of the enhanced antidoping capabilities set out in this bill.
As is also the case with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment (Sport Integrity
Australia) Bill 2019, the stakeholder concerns raised with the opposition are largely mirrored
in issues raised by the scrutiny committee. For example, the lowering of the threshold
for a disclosure notice from ‘reasonable belief’ to ‘reasonable suspicion’—a concern of associations
for athletes—has also been flagged by the scrutiny committee. Athletes groups have suggested
that lowering the threshold would effectively deny athletes the protections that are offered
to criminal suspects. They point out that complying with disclosure notices, including
accessing legal advice, can be costly and time-consuming. Representative bodies argue
that putting athletes in a position where such costs are incurred merely on the basis
of reasonable suspicion is unfair. The scrutiny committee has queried the need for the change
and asked why a reasonable belief could not be formed on the basis of intelligence gathered
while investigating a potential antidoping breach. Stakeholders have sought the chance
to provide more detail of their concerns around fair processes and opportunities for appeal
or to seek damages in the case of error. Labor believes a parallel inquiry through
the community affairs committee will provide the chance for stakeholders who wish to raise
issues. We may move amendments to this bill in the Senate if we believe the matters highlighted
through the committee process require the bill to be altered. Labor supports strong
anti-doping measures, but if the balance in this bill between necessary new and enhanced
powers and the rights of individuals can be improved then it should be. We will support
this bill in this place, noting its likely referral in the other place. I move:
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
“whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes that the Government’s
revolving door of sports ministers—no less than five (plus a briefly acting minister)
in just six years—have made ad hoc, one-off and non-ongoing funding announcements that
have made it extremely difficult for national sports organisations, such as the Australian
Sports Anti-Doping Authority, to make detailed plans beyond the constraints of a single budget
cycle, including for the enhancement of their own integrity capabilities”.