Senator FIFIELD (3.27 p.m.)-That was an incredible tirade against the Minister for the Arts and Sport. It was an outrageous tirade about his administration of the sports portfolio. I have two words to say in response to that tirade: Ros Kelly. If we are talking about cover-up, about rorting, about maladministration and about sports ministers, the words `Ros Kelly’ come to mind immediately. There is no amnesia on the part of our sports minister. There are no claims that he was merely relying on a whiteboard for inspiration.
There have been a series of allegations made about the cyclists. Independent processes have been put in place and are being followed. The matters are still being examined; action has been taken. What is the outrage here? That we should not follow due process? That we should smear the reputations of cyclists? That is Labor’s typical approach. `What did you know, when did you find out, what did you do and who did you tell?’-it is the same approach across every single portfolio. The Sports Commission, the Australian Cycling Federation and the Australian Olympic Committee acted quickly in relation to Mr Dajka. The information was presented to them. They acted quickly; they took decisive action.
What we need to keep in mind here is the reputation of our athletes. We need to protect the reputation of our cyclists and the Australian Olympic team. Using phrases like `shooting galleries’ might be good to get you on the front page of the tabloids but it maligns an entire team. If the Labor Party are genuinely interested in getting to the bottom of these matters, if they are genuinely interested in protecting the reputations of our sportsmen and sportswomen, they will not use terms like `shooting gallery’ to malign an entire team.
On this side of the chamber we want to support our athletes. We think the reputations of our athletes should be protected. We do not think their reputation should be dragged through the mud. Allegations have been made, processes have been put in place, investigations are being undertaken and action is being taken. Senator Kemp has been very up-front, very transparent. Senator Kemp has said that the government will look at the idea of an independent investigatory agency. This was a proposal recommended in 1990 when Labor were in office. Senator Faulkner was sports minister around 1993. What happened? Nothing. We are looking at the proposal. So those on the other side of the chamber are in no position to allege a cover-up or failure of action.
I would just like to quote Dr Pipe, who commented that Australia is seen as a nation that takes doping very seriously. He said:
People around the world are not surprised that doping incidents come to the fore in Australia, given this is a country that takes both sports seriously and takes anti-doping activities very seriously indeed.
Dr Pipe, FINA’s Doping Control Review Board Chairman, recognises that we take doping seriously and we take sport seriously. The Anderson inquiry, which Senator Kemp referred to, being conducted by a retired jurist, is ongoing. Mr Anderson has agreed to continue his investigation, including consideration of the issues concerning computers at the AIS Del Monte campus and any other scientific or other information that may come to hand. Mr Anderson is also proceeding with the second part of his inquiry, which involves investigating and reporting on the processes employed by the Australian Sports Commission, Cycling Australia and any other relevant parties involved since this issue arose in December last year. Mr Anderson is due to report his findings by 31 October 2004. We know that Senator Lundy has a vendetta against the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport. That is fair enough; it was for domestic Canberra political reasons. But she and Senator Faulkner should not be dragging the reputations of our sports men and women through the mud. Senator Faulkner should apologise to the cyclists. (Time expired)