Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4884 sadness at recent events, particularly the arrest of West Coast Eagles footballer, Ben Cousins in Perth yesterday, which I think has again highlighted the inadequacy of the AFLs policies to deal with drug use and abuse in their code. It is no secret that alcohol and drug abuse has been prevalent at West Coast for a long time. The recent death of Chris Mainwaring from a suspected drug overdose strengthens the belief that drugs have been a problem for this club since its inception. I followed the reporting of the death of Mainwaring and the outpouring of grief at numerous services in his honour across Western Australia. Not one person in Western Australia raised the obvious: what is being done to eradicate the current culture of drugs in place at the West Coast Eagles? I refer to Patrick Smith in The Australian: AFL must deregister tragic superstar West Coast was forced to admit it had a culture of drug abuse within its team. Coach John Worsfold said as many as eight players confessed to him eventually that they had been involved. The club brought all this upon itself because it preferred to win rather than attack the problem. Chairman Dalton Gooding seemed in denial as first Chad Fletcher collapsed on a holiday in the US and then Daniel Kerr was caught on police tapes talking with a convicted drug dealer. He knew nothing. That is, the Chairman of West Coast Eagles. It is absolutely clear with the arrest of Cousins that AFL strategies are failing. Earlier in the year, Cousins delivered a manufactured public apology on his return from rehabilitation in the US in an attempt to convince the public, the West Coast, and the AFL that he was fair bet to play again. His arrest highlights the lack of sincerity which was so obvious in his carefully constructed dry plea for forgiveness. It also highlighted the failure of his rehabilitation, and the continued failure of West Coast to persuade and help him to clean up his act. The secrecy provisions within the AFL Code concerning players drug use does no one any good. It is widely known another AFL club has a number of players in rehab for drug abuse. However, it can only remain as rumour because the AFL Code stipulates that no one is allowed to name the club or the players. I can tell you that every person in Melbourne who follows AFL can name the club and the seven players named in that report, but you are not allowed to under the AFL Code. Keeping the issue a secret under the AFL Code leaves no one with any confidence at all that the policy works. Aside from that one other club, there is no speculation that any of the other 14 clubs have the ongoing, deep-seated drug issues which are so apparent at West Coast Eagles. This puts a lie to the commentary and the claim, particularly from the West, that the problems at West Coast exist in every club, in every other code and right across the community at large. That is an absolute denial of the facts. What is true is that AFL footballers, once established within their playing lists, are fabulously paid and have a large amount of recreation time once they have met their training commitments. Tragedy strikes when players fail to show the same self-discipline in their private lives as they show in their pursuit of sporting excellence. If we look at players such as James Hird recently retired, Andrew McLeod, still going, and Nathan Buckley, also recently retired, who come to mind as hugely successful role models for Australian youth, it is a crying pity that their efforts are demeaned by the downfall of Cousins and others of his ilk. Cousins had an absolute golden opportunity to say sorry with sincerity, and mean it. He had an opportunity to prove he had overcome his addiction and that his rehabilitation was successful, and to get on with his football life. He has failed on every count. The AFL has a system of three strikes and you are out. That is absolutely three strikes to me. If the West Coast Eagles are too inept or too gutless to act, which I suspect is the case, then Andrew Dimitriou and the AFL must. The paying football public inside Australia - excluding Western Australia, I do not believe we will hear a peep from them - will demand no less. Mrs MILLER (Katherine): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, tonight I want to speak about tourism and address the AEC report which has been commissioned by government to address changes in the tourism industry in the Northern Territory. I suspect there was a motive for doing this. Having come from a regional tourism area, there has been an effort for some time to try to amalgamate the smaller RTAs into larger tourism associations, meaning Tennant Creek into Alice Springs and Katherine into the Top End and Darwin. That has been ongoing for some time. By government establishing this consultancy was one way for them to be able to say: Okay, we are going have some figures and statistics just to show how ineffective things are in regional tourism associations. Today in Question Time, I quoted from page 91 of the AEC report:
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