Page 5063 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (11.06): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I introduce the Controlled Sports Bill 2018. This bill establishes a legislative framework to update regulations on combat sports events operating in the ACT. This bill will improve safety for contestants and promote integrity in the industry. It replaces the Boxing Control Act 1993.

Canberra is Australia’s most active city, and sport is part of our cultural identity. Participation in organised competitions and spectating at combat sports events are important social events for many Canberrans. This bill defines combat sports in a way that demonstrates the trust and confidence the government has in the self-regulation and appropriate activity of community sporting clubs and associations.

The focus of this bill is on regulating commercial combat sports contests, not suburban sporting competitions which form part of the leisure and fitness activity of ACT residents. The bill defines events as registrable and non-registrable, which is specifically tied to the commercial purposes of the event, noting that there are higher integrity risks with commercially profitable events.

This ensures appropriate rigour is applied when there is a significant exchange of funds, including large prize pools, regardless of the skill level of contestants. It also recognises the sound regulatory structure and promotion of safety that is currently exemplified by many combat sporting bodies in the ACT, who will be able to continue to operate with minimal regulatory impost under the non-registrable component of the bill.

As with all physical activity, combat sports involve risks of harm to participants. Given the particular profile of techniques performed in combat sport contests, the risk of serious and enduring injury, including threat to life, is higher than many other sports.

The bill defines a combat sport as a sport of activity where a person kicks, hits, strikes, grapples with or throws another person. As sports evolve into new sports, contests of any sport or activity that include any of these techniques will be automatically covered by the legislation as either registrable or non-registrable events. This bill aims to balance continued participation and enjoyment of these sports with an environment that is regulated to be as safe as possible.

The bill also allows for the exemption of light contact combat sports from regulation, which was as a result of feedback from the industry. The bill promotes safety and integrity in the combat sports industry and allows for other sports that involve high-risk activities to be regulated, should the need arise.

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