Topics: Review into integrity of Australian sport; airport security and terrorism
We’re commissioning a review into Australian sports’ integrity because we want to make sure that Australian sport is the cleanest and strongest in the world.
We already have one of the world’s cleanest sports systems with the highest levels of integrity, but it’s not perfect and it can be even better.
That’s why we’ve asked Justice Wood, one of Australia’s most outstanding jurists, along with experts from a variety of sports, as well as a former leading figure in the world anti-doping movement, to lead this process.
My belief is that we do have a very clean, world class sports system, but it can be even better and it should be and will be the cleanest, highest levels of integrity, of any major nation’s sporting system when this is finished.
Why do we need another review into sport? Isn’t it time for action?
Well, this is part of the National Sports Plan and there are four pillars to the National Sports Plan, firstly, there’s participation, which is about grassroots engagement, secondly, there’s performance, which is what we achieve in our medal sports and we have outstanding sports leadership, but they have said they would like additional support, thirdly, we have the preventative health benefits of sport, and finally, we have integrity.
Now, there are threats, let’s be clear about this. The threats at this stage, of all of the advice that I have from the agencies and authorities, are mostly coming from overseas. There is illegal betting overseas that is attempting to infiltrate Australian sport.
Australian sport, to its absolute credit, has overwhelmingly resisted this, but we have to be clear that there will always be threats, therefore we need a stronger system that, in my view, one option that is very attractive and which will be investigated by the review panel is a National Sports Integrity Commission and Tribunal.
This would give us an iron clad sports guardian.
What sort of powers would an integrity tribunal have?
So, this will be a matter for the panel to review and consider, I’ll await their findings. But it would be something done in cooperation with sport, it would involve both medal sports and professional sports.
We won’t try to rush to any judgement, but at the end of the day, it would have to have the power to protect sport and to investigate where there are risks of match fixing or risks of systematic doping.
But again, I think it’s very important to say that we have some of the cleanest sport in the world, it can and should be protected to make it the best in the world in terms of integrity.
Is it a sad indictment on the current state of Australian sport that yet another integrity review is required?
No, I think that we have very, very high levels of integrity in Australian sport. In my view, we have a very solid base, but there are international threats.
There are criminal gangs overseas, we know from the material that has been presented to me, that want to infiltrate Australian sport.
To the complete credit of our major sports, our sports people, and our medal sports, they have overwhelmingly resisted the temptations from abroad, but we have to have strong protections against criminal gangs that would like to infiltrate Australian sport but, frankly, all credit to Australian sports and sports people for what they’ve done so far.
Would you be able to detail for us some of the weaknesses where they are attacking Australian sport?
So, there are two main fronts where we face challenges, one is, obviously, on the anti-doping front, we have some very, very strong protections in place, both organisational and legal, but you always have to be aware.
This is a global challenge and Australia is a world leader, we have to keep going forwards. Secondly, there is the match fixing and online betting risk which, really, has not infiltrated Australia in any significant way to date, but the advice I’ve had is that there are those from outside of Australia who do want to try to penetrate our defences and the answer is very clear, not on our watch, not on my watch.
But the great thing is, sport is a hundred per cent, hundred per cent united in the fight against match fixing. There are no soft sports in my view.
And so I want to re-affirm my belief in the integrity of Australian sport, but confirm that we won’t take anything less than absolute full measures to maintain and improve even further that integrity.
This review will cover all sports, we know that, but all levels? In particular, we know that there is greater threat if this starts happening at the sub-professional levels or semi-professional levels?
That’s exactly right. In many ways, and again this is the advice I’ve had from the agencies, the biggest threat isn’t at the professional level, it’s at the sub-professional level where young players can be tempted into a situation that could involve a performance enhancing or illicit drug and then criminal gangs from outside of Australia will try to bring them onto the hook for match fixing.
Now, the evidence that I have been presented to date by the agencies is that that has not occurred in any systemic fashion, but we have to protect against what is a global challenge of illicit online wagering, backed by criminal gangs.
All credit, though, to Australian sport for having resisted this to date and we want to give them additional support for a very simple reason, Australians love their sport and they want to see that sport is fully protected.
Can you go into any of the powers that you would like to see, of course meaning the review, that you’d like to see this commission have?
Well, subject to the review, obviously there has to be an investigative capability and an enforcement capability. I’ll let the review run through those.
With Justice Wood we really do have an outstanding, not just Australian but international leader, and they will speak right across the sports world, with junior, with sub-professional, and with professional sports, with Olympic and non-Olympic sports, and I think we’ve been fortunate to have such outstanding people make themselves available for the panel.
On another topic, and I know you’ve said time (inaudible) just earlier, will there be a proposal going to Cabinet to strengthen security at domestic airports or domestic departure points around the country?
The number one task for any government is to protect their people, to provide the security for the Australian people.
So our number one task as an Australian government is to protect the Australian people. I’ll let the Prime Minister and Darren Chester talk about any possible measures, but we’ve seen only recently real threats to the safety of our Australian citizens, to the safety of people who wanted to take flights.
Fortunately, we have some of the best security authorities in the world and this is now the 13th major attempt at a significant terrorist activity which has been stopped, but very simply, we have to take all safety measures that are prudent and responsible.
The New South Wales Government has announced workshops will be implemented out soon to educate players, parents, and coaches about concussion. Should this be encouraged across the nation?
I welcome the New South Wales message. Concussion can be a terrible injury at any time, but repeated concussion can have a lifelong neurological effect, so I congratulate New South Wales and I would encourage other states to look at the New South Wales model for protecting young players, sub-professional players, and professional players.
Thank you. Thanks, everybody.