March 8, 2013  |  Second reading speech

Major Sporting Events Amendment Bill 2013

It is my pleasure to make a contribution to the debate on the Major Sporting Events Amendment Bill 2013, which is a bill to amend the Major Sporting Events Act 2009 in relation to events and event venues, crowd management, aerial advertising and sports event ticketing. The opposition does not oppose the bill. The intention of the legislation is to improve crowd behaviour and safety at major sporting events.

Key provisions of the bill include addressing crowd management. It more than doubles the infringement penalties for the possession and lighting of flares, taking on-the-spot fines for possession from 2 penalty units to 5 penalty units, which is $704, and for lighting flares from 3 penalty units to 7.5 penalty units, which is $1056. The bill adds to the offences for which a person can be banned from events or event venues for up to five years,
including disrupting the event while invading the pitch, damaging the sporting
competition space and refusing to comply with directions to leave and not re-enter.

The bill also strengthens the powers of police and authorised officers to enforce the crowd management provisions of the act, and it adds the Spring Racing Carnival to the list of annual events permanently covered by the act. I will say something about that a bit later on.

In relation to ticket scalping, the bill introduces an on-the-spot fine of $704 for the unauthorised onselling or advertising of five or fewer tickets at a protected event that has been deemed under the act. There are also some amendments to aerial advertising, in particular adding international one-day and Twenty20 cricket matches held at the MCG and the AFL match held on Anzac Day — it is good that they will be added — to the list of
major events that are permanently covered by aerial advertising provisions. The bill also ensures that, where an event such as the AFL Grand Final is protected by aerial advertising provisions, any replay will also be covered.

The key elements of the bill are crowd management and ticket advertising. As highlighted, doubling the effect of penalties for the possession and lighting of flares is a good thing and something the opposition does not oppose.

Many members would be aware that late last year — this was recorded in the Age of 7 November — a 10-year-old girl was hit in the face by a flare that had been lit some 50 metres away. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to find the culprits. This happened at the Victorian Premier League Grand Final. As I mentioned, the girl was 50 metres away. She suffered burns to her face, and another young girl, aged 12, who was sitting next to her, suffered burns to her shoulder. It is a welcome change to increase the penalties for lighting flares, and giving more powers to authorised officers and police officers to crack down and issue on-the-spot fines in relation to flares is also a good thing.

In relation to ticket scalping and crowd management more generally, the legislation adds major events to those that are covered by the act, including the Spring Racing Carnival — in particular, the Melbourne Cup at Flemington, the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, which a lot of my constituents attend, and also the Caulfield Cup at Caulfield.

One issue with the legislation that needs to be highlighted is that these events are generally in suburban Melbourne. The bill does not go so far as to cover regional and rural Victoria. For example, I have attended the races at Hanging Rock. Country racing is a big thing in this state. The now Premier and Minister for Racing is obviously a big supporter of country racing, and I think even he would agree that down the track this legislation will probably need to be updated to make sure that we have appropriate crowd management — —

Mr Battin — It does cover it.

Mr CARROLL — The member for Gembrook interjects, not that I want to respond. It was
actually the Labor Party that introduced this legislation; it was the Brumby government. The Government should have done some more research to make sure. If you are going to make legislation, do it once and do it properly.

The government should have done an update to include regional and rural Victoria and the Country Racing Carnival in addition to the Spring Racing Carnival. I believe that before 2014 we will be back, talking about other events, such as those at racing venues in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Cranbourne, which are all big racing meets. They will
also have to be included in the act.

The previous government also updated a lot of the former AFL grounds, which now have major sporting events held at them, including Arden Street — —

Mr Battin — They are all covered.

Mr CARROLL — They are not covered. You do not know what you are talking about. They are not covered under this legislation. Read the bill.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! Interjections are disorderly.

The member will not respond to interjections and will direct his comments through the Chair.

Mr CARROLL — I will, Deputy Speaker. If those opposite read the legislation, they will
see that those former AFL grounds are not covered. I think in the future they will be covered, but at the moment they are not. They will need to be covered because they are peak sporting venues in this day and age. It was the Bracks and Brumby governments that redeveloped those venues to make them suitable for elite sport. You will not see a better ground surface right now than the one at Arden Street oval. The State Fencing Centre is there, and all sorts of major events are held there that one day will have to be included in this legislation but at the moment are not.

I take up the issue of sports event ticketing provisions, another Bracks government initiative.

In particular it was originally designed to combat the — —

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr CARROLL — The members opposite do not know what they are talking about, because sports event ticketing legislation did come in under the Bracks government. Again, they have not read the legislation or the explanatory memorandum. The Sports Event Ticketing (Fair Access) Act 2002 was brought in to make major events more transparent. It probably could have applied last night, given the major event that occurred in this place. Perhaps it could have made the major event that happened last night in the Liberal Party room more transparent.

Mr Battin — On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, in relation to relevance, we are talking about the sporting bill; it is a very narrow bill. It does not relate to events that happen in the chamber; it relates to sporting events and venues around Victoria.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! I uphold the point of order. I was going to interrupt the member on his feet. I ask that he stay with the bill.

Mr CARROLL — As I said, the Sports Event Ticketing (Fair Access) Act came in under the
Bracks government. It was designed to help make the AFL Grand Final more transparent. To date not many tickets are being issued to the public, and it is very difficult to get a ticket.

The legislation introduced by the Bracks government has also been regarded as anti-scalping legislation; it was a world first. It is about making the AFL more transparent in its allocation of tickets to members, clubs and sponsors. It is good to see that the current government is supporting that legislation and that it is being added to and extended to other events.

I now want to talk about the code of conduct for community sport, another former government initiative. It invested $600 000 in this initiative. The current Minister for Sport and Recreation was tongue-tied on radio 3AW when he had to explain the comments he made to a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing last year, where he said:

The other program that will conclude in 2011-12 is the community sport code of conduct.

It no longer has funding. Essentially the minister needs to come clean on how this code of conduct is going to continue in the state. I could probably help him out. I think he was trying to shift the responsibility across to the state sporting associations, but he has not given them any additional funding to implement that. The code of conduct got a lot of
publicity when it came in. In fact it is probably publicity this government would have welcomed at the time. Garry Lyon and all the major sports — from the AFL to Football Federation Victoria — got right behind the government to try to stamp out the poor behaviour that happens at suburban grounds. It was a very popular initiative, and it is wrong that it has not been funded. I hope the Minister for Sport and Recreation will reconsider funding it.

There was an article in the Herald Sun of 4 June 2012 entitled ‘They don’t get the message’ which highlighted just how important this program is and that it has been very successful in combating the ugly behaviour that occurs at suburban grounds. A lot of young boys and girls who participate in community sport are left with mental scars from seeing not so
much violence on the ground but adults on the sidelines, who should be behaving better, behaving inappropriately.

They do not get the message. I read from the Herald Sun of Monday, 4 June 2012, an article which in part says:

The state government has been accused of penny-pinching for dumping
funding for a major anti-sports violence program.

Under the code — backed by some of Victoria’s biggest sporting names —
clubs would miss out on government money if they did not crack down on ugly
players and spectators

 

It is time for the minister to come clean on how the code of conduct is going to operate in the future and how he expects state sporting associations, and the 16 000 local community sporting people who belong to them, to implement it.