Match-Fixing - Radio Interview - 3AW Drive with Tom Elliott

20 January 2016


SUBJECT/S: Match-Fixing; Drugs in Sport; Sports Integrity Regime

TOM ELLIOTT: Our next guest is Shadow Minister for Sport at the Federal level, Jim Chalmers. Good afternoon.

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SPORT: G'day Tom, I'm still getting my head around that spaghetti bolognese pizza that you guys talked about in the news.

ELLIOTT: I can tell you, this guy I used to work with, every Friday night he'd start salivating at three o'clock in the afternoon over the spaghetti bolognese pizza. But on a more serious issue, integrity in sport. Now, Senator Richard di Natale joined me yesterday and, as you know, he's a former footballer and he said look, we've got some real issues here. We've got drugs, people don't know if it's WADA or should they self-regulate these issues. There's a discussion out of London via the BBC that tennis has got match-fixing allegations. Of course, cricket has been dealing with that for some years. And then on top of that we've got the explosive rise in sports betting, particularly in this country. Do you think there's a role for the Federal Government to try and regulate all sports in Australia in a more sort-of comprehensive manner?

CHALMERS: Tom, a lot of effort goes into maintaining integrity in sport but I think we can always do more and always look for ways to do a better job. There is a National Integrity in Sport Unit which was set up, I think, in 2011 by the former Labor Government. One of the issues with that National Plan is that the take-up around the country has been a bit patchy so we do need to invest in that process. I think Rob Harris in the Herald Sun was all over this today in the paper.

I think what we need to see - what Labor wants to see - is that the Government should urgently convene a meeting of the major sports and the State and Federal authorities to see where our efforts to combat match-fixing and all these other problems can be better coordinated. Because right now, what we've got is a bit of an alphabet soup of regimes and jurisdictions around the world and around the country and we need to get everyone on the same page. We need to get everyone in the same room. This is not a political issue from my point of view. We'd be prepared to work with the Government in a bipartisan way on it. But I do think we need to heed the calls of the major sports in the paper today in Rob's article, get together and see where we can iron out the problems, get rid of the overlap, and make sure everybody is doing what they can to ensure that Australians can have confidence that when they settle into the couch or at the arena and they're watching a contest that the contest is clean and that it is genuine.

ELLIOTT: Okay, can I ask you some specific questions now. With drug testing, which obviously has been a huge issue for a long time now, particularly with regard to Essendon. Now Senator di Natale told me yesterday - and he made this point last week - that he's not so sure that the WADA code, which basically puts the bulk of the responsibility on the individual athlete, he doesn't think that works very well for team sports. Now, I happen to disagree with him on that. But, you know, if you're the AFL, should you subscribe to the WADA code or should WADA be for Olympic or individual sports, maybe we need a different code for team sports?

CHALMERS: Yeah, I've heard a lot of that commentary as well, Tom, and people do point to the fact that the WADA code was largely developed with individual Olympic athletes in mind. I'm not inclined to support the AFL getting out of that WADA regime. I've not heard an idea for a better regime put on the table. And the way that sports funding is done in Australia, you need to be part of that WADA code to get the money. But I have listened to what the Senator has had to say and what other parts of the sporting world has had to say. We will monitor that debate pretty closely.

As it stands, what I think what we need to do is to see really high standards when it comes to the banned substances. I think it's good that the clubs and the AFL and other sports are having a good look at their own practices. Because what the Essendon saga really sent a strong message about is that while individuals are responsible for what goes into their bodies, the clubs and the sports themselves also need to ensure that they're not compromising the careers of some of these young men and women or their safety and their welfare. So I think a lot of people are having a look at how they do things, so that they can better comply with the WADA code.  There's a separate conversation going on about whether the AFL should be part of that, and that will be ongoing.

ELLIOTT: Jim Chalmers, thank you for your time. Shadow Minister for Sport at the Federal level.