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Harawira: Sports Anti-Doping Bill (third reading)

Sports Anti-Doping Bill (third reading)

Thursday 26 August 2006

Hone Harawira; Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Mr Speaker, we already know that Aotearoa is a world leader in promoting and supporting drug free sport; we’re a founding member of the World Anti-Doping Agency; and we were one of the first to introduce domestic sports drug testing, and so the Maori Party is happy to congratulate the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency for their excellent work in providing drug-free sports education to our national sporting bodies and other key agencies, effective drug testing procedures, and educational and research programmes to underline our commitment as a nation to fair play in sport.

Mr Speaker, we also see this Bill as an opportunity for this Parliament to take note of other values that we can draw on from our nation’s athletes; values like integrity, honesty, justice, morality, fairness; values which Mr Shane Jones tell me, are likely to be unfamiliar to many in this House, but exist in abundance in the Maori Party caucus.

Mr Speaker, this Bill also gives the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand greater power to obtain evidence and to conduct hearings on doping cases in sport, but it raises the question of whether or not a sports-ban is sufficient penalty, particularly given that in Italy drug-cheats are prosecuted as criminals, while in Aotearoa, it remains a civil rather than a criminal offence.

Mr Speaker, I would also like to mention another key player in promoting this Bill, and that is Sport and Recreation New Zealand - SPARC, who, through their credibility and expertise right across the sporting world, played a big role in bringing together comments and opinion from national sports organisations and athletes on draft anti-doping rules.

Within SPARC there is also a positive national network of Maori organisers operating under the banner of He Oranga Poutama since 1988, a great example of initiatives to develop healthier, more active lifestyles for Maori people.

SPARC is also chaired by an independent body, Te Roopu Manaaki, that works right across Maori communities, to increase physical activity through recreation and sport.

It’s due to the hard work of both the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency and SPARC that we have been at the forefront of the fight against doping - and the Maori Party is happy to record our gratitude to these two bodies, for their efforts to protect an athlete’s fundamental right to participate in drug-free sport.

And in closing, I would also like to mention one Dallas Seymour, a key stakeholder in the SPARC structure.

Dallas Seymour, old boy of St Stephens, and former New Zealand Sevens representative and All Black; who along with Eric Rush, was one of the most talented sevens players in the world, highly respected for the energy and the thinking he brought to the game.

And of course, his wife, Julie Seymour, who after bringing three little Seymours into the world, revitalised her netball career and was selected for the New Zealand netball team who recently played the Australians.

In the Seymour family, we see all those values we want to promote in sport and some of the positive aspects we want to see in our athletes. In fact I was reading a blurb about Dallas the other day, where he said: “I'm Maori. I'm passionately proud of our country. It has always been an enormous privilege for me to pull on the black jersey with the silver fern - in sixteen years representing New Zealand I never took that moment for granted. For me, the jersey was motivating - each time I wore it I was deeply aware of its history and meaning, which meant I knew I could perform to the best of my abilities”.

Mr Speaker, this House can learn a lot from the leadership that our athletes exhibit.

The Maori Party will support the Sports Anti-Doping Bill, and we do so because of the motivation that people like Dallas Seymour give us, to honour the history and the spirit of Aotearoa.

ENDS

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