Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I rise also to make a contribution to the debate on this bill, and I state at the outset that the opposition will not oppose it. It is unfortunate that we have had a timely reminder of bad behaviour at sporting events. Members would be aware of the sickening incident that occurred last weekend at AAMI Park during the A-League soccer game between Melbourne Heart and Western Sydney Wanderers. An unsuspecting Wanderers fan was king-hit by a man in the crowd, and of course investigations into the incident are under way. Footage of the incident has been shown on the newsreels and there have also been photos in the major media outlets, and those visions have been met with surprise and a sickening feeling in the community.
One common theme that is embedded in the bill before us today is that regardless of what party is the government of the day, it is absolutely critical that that government has the power to ensure that every sporting event that is held in Victoria is safe for men, women and children who attend those events. The opposition believes the bill makes a contribution towards improving crowd behaviour at major sporting events. The bill increases penalties for offences covered by the legislation, such as the carrying of flares, both lit and unlit. It is important that penalties for those behaviours be increased.
The bill also creates new provisions that go to defacing and damaging sporting competition space and any of the structures around the sporting space, as well as dealing with issues around the act of entering a sporting event, whether you have a ticket and authority to do so or not. Along with crowd control provisions, the bill also deals with advertising at major sporting events, as well as ticketing amendments.
It was the former Labor government that introduced the original act. That legislation was a breakthrough, a world first. It was seen as important, because if we were to establish Melbourne and Victoria as major sporting event locations, we had to do everything possible to ensure that safety was an absolute priority and that everyone — international competitors, international sporting organisations and other governments — understood that Victoria took sport very seriously and that hand in glove with successful sporting events is the need to take measures to ensure safety.
We were proud of introducing that original act, as we were, in terms of hosting major events, of being named the ultimate sports city in 2006, 2008 and 2010. As other speakers from the opposition have stated, we have been grossly disappointed by the fact that Victoria lost that title — and lost it to the United Kingdom.
Honourable members interjecting.
Ms TIERNEY — It is not a laughing matter. It is important that we try to hold on to that title and that Melbourne sits at the no. 1 spot on the world stage as the preferred location for sport in this state and in this country.
We also developed a sporting code of conduct, but I understand that unfortunately this government has chosen to get rid of that, as it has also decided to slash $46 million from the Community Support Fund and to axe the sustainable sport program. It is clear that this government does not have the same sense of the value of sport and therefore has no real understanding of the interrelationship of safety and sporting events.
I now refer to some of my concerns. The first is in relation to how these amendments apply to one geographic location and not another. We heard from Damian Drum about how there have been significant major events in regional Victoria — —
An honourable member interjected.
Mr Drum listed quite a few, and they were not restricted to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. A number of events have occurred way beyond those important regional cities, and yet he argued that whilst there have been regional events, the coverage of this legislation does not need to extend to venues outside Melbourne. The argument itself is contradictory and cannot be fathomed, to be quite frank.
I am concerned that the provisions of this bill will not cover Simonds Stadium. I cannot understand why the same two teams which play in Melbourne might then go down to Geelong to play and not be covered there. I cannot understand why government backbenchers in the other place say the reason for this is that they believe Simonds Stadium is safe. Do we have to have an act of hooliganism at Simonds Stadium before these measures are applied? Is there some sort of special provision that needs to be added? Is there a special benchmark for regional Victoria that needs to be reached before safety can be applied at its venues?
I do not think so.
If we are serious about this, we need to apply the measures to a whole range of venues beyond Melbourne, indeed across regional Victoria. Do we have to now advertise the fact that you can behave badly at certain venues but you cannot behave badly at others? It is crazy for people to think that they can get on the train in Melbourne and go up to Ballarat or Geelong and act in a way that is absolutely inappropriate.
Mr Ondarchie interjected.
Ms TIERNEY — I can tell you that the Geelong community does not want that to happen, and I can most assuredly tell you that the Ballarat community does not want people coming into its city and behaving badly.
I want to know how government backbenchers in the other place can stand up and say that safety is not the no. 1 issue for their communities. I want to know at what point in time, over what issue, they will actually get up in their party room and say, ‘No, my community believes this issue is extremely important and there shouldn’t be discrimination between Melbourne and the community I represent’. That clearly did not happen when these amendments were put through.
Mr Ondarchie interjected.
Ms TIERNEY — No, I am not denigrating Geelong supporters at all; I am very supportive of them. But one needs to understand that the member for South Barwon in the Assembly is saying that safety at sporting events in Geelong is not important.
Another concern I have is that there is no money and there are no resources attached to this bill. We are giving extra work to police; there is an extra burden of duties for them to perform, but there are no resources and there is no money for them to execute what is required under these amendments. What I am primarily concerned about is that there is a set of rules for people who live in certain parts of Victoria but there is not for people who live in other parts. If this bill was a serious bill in terms of crowd control, the appropriate resources would have been attached to it so it would actually have some force.
Having said that, I reiterate that the opposition will not oppose the bill. However, I will say in closing that the coalition’s approach to sport and safety is almost like its performance in government, which we have seen of late — that of a sporting team that has had no confidence in its coach and has sacked him whilst at the same time trying to juggle a rogue player on its list who has taken his bat and ball and gone to the crossbenches.
That performance has been shambolic and piecemeal, just like the government’s approach to sport — and all Victorians are poorer for it.