Speaking on the Major Sporting Events Amendment Bill 2013.

7th march 2013

It is a pleasure to rise to speak on the Major Sporting Events Amendment Bill 2013.

As we have heard from previous speakers, the bill intends to contribute to improving crowd behaviour and safety at major sporting events by extending the reach and impact of crowd management provisions under the principal act and strengthening powers of officers and police in going about their business of maintaining order at the many major sporting events that take place in Victoria. It also adds the key Spring Racing Carnival events of the Melbourne Cup and the Caulfield Cup to the list of major events covered by the crowd management provisions of the legislation.

Some on that side of the house may want to include the Liberal Party party room on the list of locations that should be covered by crowd management provisions given recent events. We could also include the Deputy Premier’s office, given recent events, as a location needing to be covered by crowd management provisions.

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr Battin — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, in relation to relevance, we have had a very wide-ranging debate. However, the debate is in relation to the major sporting events bill and about sport, and I ask you to direct the member for Brunswick to concentrate on sport rather than any other goings-on in the house.

Mr Foley — On the point of order, Acting Speaker, this bill deals with hooligans. This place is full of hooligans, so I think the honourable member is spot on with her contribution.

Mr Watt — On the point of order, Acting Speaker, clearly the member for Brunswick was not on the bill, and I concur with the member for Gembrook that the member for Brunswick should come back to the bill.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Northe) — Order! I will now rule on the point of order. I must say that I was slightly distracted as the Clerk and I were having a quick conversation. I remind the member for Brunswick to keep to the bill.

Ms GARRETT — I will of course adhere to your ruling, Acting Speaker, and will not mention the Liberal Party party room again until later on in my contribution, because we have seen some major events this week; there is no doubt about that. Talking about the key issue of sports in our community, Melbourne and sport have a passionate — —

An honourable member — Victoria.

Ms GARRETT — Victoria and sport have a passionate relationship. Major events and sport are integral to our sense of identity and who we are and what we do. I think we are the envy of the world in that we have had a fine tradition of enjoying our sports side by side. Sport is a family event. It is a family activity. It is a family way of life. Often when people visit our great state they go to a football match at the MCG with 100 000 people screaming passionately for their opposing teams. I use Essendon and Carlton as an example.

As a passionate Blues fan I have taken my children many times to those very large matches, and what is extraordinary about them so often is how harmonious the crowd is, despite their passionate support of that team in navy blue. You rarely see it descend into fights and you rarely see it descend into chaos, like we see in other parts of the nation and other parts of the world. That is to be applauded. But we must be vigilant, which is why this bill is important.

In recent times we have seen some disturbing trends at our major events where crowd behaviour has not been what it should be and where tensions have exploded within sporting or other arenas. Clearly at some major events, such as the Spring Racing Carnival, significant amounts of alcohol and other issues are involved. Major events have become huge events, with hundreds of thousands of people attending, so the bill is important in that regard.

We on this side of the house have some issues with the scope and extent of the bill. For example, we have issues with its coverage, as has been referred to, and around the penalties for flares and the like. These should have perhaps been tougher given the real risk of causing harm, particularly as a lot of children are present at these events. We also put strongly — as was done by the shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation, the member for Lara, as the lead speaker for the opposition — that the code of conduct should be strengthened not just at the elite level but also at the grassroots level. This is where children learn how to play team sports; it is where they learn how to win and lose. It impacts on how parents and spectators behave at events and on how children develop and their view of the word. Again, we have seen some disturbing trends in that regard across the state. I point out while the Minister for Sport and Recreation is in the house that those conduct issues should definitely be strengthened at the grassroots level throughout Victoria.

Another issue that has been raised which we have some concerns about is that the crowd management provisions apply only to certain venues and events. They do not apply in this place, for example. They do not apply in Geelong, and that is a major flaw in the legislation. Geelong has a huge number of major events that are attended by people who are passionate about them, many of whom are in this house — I have seen how passionate they can be about the Cats. We have made the point that there is a deficiency in the bill in that regard, in that a football match between two teams at the MCG would be covered but the same football match played at Simonds Stadium in Geelong would not be covered. That is a deficiency.

Finally, I add that there is no investment accompanying this bill. Once again the government is tinkering around the edges rather than dealing with the major issues
affecting this state: jobs, health and education. We would like to see the provision of real investment by this government in those things that Victorians are desperate for and real investment in and the provision of resources for sport and recreation in Victoria because it is such a critical component of our state. Instead of the government continuing the great and proud record in this area of Labor when it was in office, which made Victoria the major events mecca of the world, we have seen funding slashed, staff numbers slashed, the state going backwards, a general malaise and people not feeling the fire and passion they once did about this state. Certainly the events of this week have demonstrated just how rudderless this state has become in just two very brief years.

In closing, while we support improved crowd control and greater powers for those who police our major events and make sure that they are safe for everybody, there are deficiencies in this bill just as there are major deficiencies in this government. We have certainly seen that this week. We commend the bill to the house and hope it will contribute to the continued enjoyment of these great events in our great state.


(Hansard, 2013)