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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1194 ..


One of my particular concerns was with the definition of commercial purpose. There seemed to be no way ahead for us to agree on that aspect. In relation to the amateur elements or non-registered events and exempted light combat sports, in my view the bill in its original form was too far-reaching. I firmly believe that this would have unfairly impacted on local martial arts schools, fitness-related enterprises and grassroots competitions. Whilst demonstration events per se are excluded, there remained uncertainty on how local martial arts schools, tournament organisers and combat-related fitness programs might operate.

The minister stated when she introduced the bill last year that it was not intended to impact on the suburban sporting competitions which form part of the leisure and fitness activities of ACT residents. Unfortunately, the definition of a combat sport, registrable event and non-registrable event have the potential to impede the operations of this level of sporting activity. That is why we are putting forward amendments to focus on these areas.

For example, I have spoken with several local martial arts schools. They run events that are not classified as demonstrations; they could be considered competitions where participants show their skills. They also run classes, fitness packages and holiday programs. Many of these schools are likely to be excluded from this legislation for being light combat sports, such as karate or jujitsu, but there is no guarantee. To get an exemption they must apply to the minister. If, for any reason, they are not granted an exemption, the decision from the minister is not reviewable. They then must make application to conduct their event and comply with a series of conditions.

This is a worst-case scenario, but with this government I felt I could not leave anything to chance. That is why we have worked with the minister to exclude training and fitness-related activities. I am very pleased to say that after much back and forth we have found common ground.

An example where, sadly, we have not been able to reach agreement, relates to a local martial arts school that conducts a state-level tournament each year. The school has over 200 students, 150 of whom are juniors. It is a great example of a local business but also provides grassroots sport, and junior athletes in particular, with pathways to compete. It has been operating for more than 10 years. It has been doing so without incident and with all relevant checks and balances in place. It falls under a nationally recognised sporting body. It has public liability and indemnity insurance. It has medical officials on site during the event and gives away fantastic trophies and prizes. The event has grown from strength to strength and is now a fixture on the sporting calendar.

To conduct this event costs approximately $15,000. Therefore the organisers charge an entry fee and ticket price. This is merely to cover the cost, and they barely do that. This is not to mention the countless volunteer hours and time off work they invest to make this a success. Under the new legislation, this tournament will need to apply to the government and be deemed either a registrable or non-registrable event. As an event with a commercial purpose, it is likely to be a registrable event. If so, they will have to submit and pay for applications for all participants, officials and promoters.


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