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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1193 ..

Controlled Sports Bill 2018

Debate resumed from 29 November 2018, on motion by Ms Berry:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (4.00): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill. However, we have amendments, which I will outline shortly. The intention behind this legislation is to regulate combat sport events in the ACT to improve the safety of contestants and to promote integrity within the commercial aspects of this field. The Canberra Liberals acknowledge that a review of this area was necessary. We understand that this review was needed given that the Boxing Control Act 1993 was somewhat outdated. We also understand that it was time for the ACT to stand up its own legislation rather than relying on regulations from New South Wales.

There have been similar reviews and revised legislation implemented in New South Wales in 2014 and, most recently, in Victoria in 2018. These reviews have stemmed from incidents in the professional area of combat sports where there have been safety issues and integrity concerns in other parts of Australia.

Whilst we understand the need, the Canberra Liberals disagree with the over-regulated approach of this legislation. In saying that, I was very pleased that the Minister for Sport and Recreation provided us with a brief on these changes in late December last year and has worked with us on several amendments. These amendments will go a long way to cushioning the impact on local and grassroots sport. However, in my view, they do not go far enough. This comes down to essential differences in our world view and perspective. We in the Liberal Party prefer to trust individuals to do the right thing; to only intervene when necessary; and, when we do so, to make sure that the structures and processes are efficient and do not hinder process. That is one of the reasons we think this legislation is unsound.

At the heart of it, our main concern with this bill is the over-regulation of sport. Whilst there are risks with combat sport, as with any sport, in the case of the ACT we have had no history, or a very limited history, of safety and integrity issues. The proposed reforms take a very heavy-handed approach that has the potential to compromise personal freedoms and choice whilst increasing government interference and oversight.

Nonetheless, for the professional element of combat sports, or the registrable events in the case of this legislation, the Canberra Liberals will apply a watch and wait approach for these changes. We hope that they meet the intent of the government to enhance safety and integrity, and we will watch carefully to ensure that in doing so they do not unfairly impact on individuals and groups within the sector. After all, we have seen time and time again in this place that over-regulation, fees and lack of support from government have driven major events, and residents, interstate. We hope that this is not the case for boxing and combat sports entertainment.

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