Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard fronts a large
media contingent at the Hilton Queenstown after landing in
the resort. Photo by Christina McDonald.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and his Australian
counterpart, Julia Gillard, say the integrity of sport is under
a cloud in the wake of the Australian Crime Commission's report
into doping and match-fixing in Australian sport.
Speaking in Queenstown yesterday, both prime ministers
addressed the revelations from a year-long investigation,
which Ms Gillard said had been ''pretty sickening''.
The report reveals there is widespread use of banned drugs in
Australian professional sport, and that the practice has
links with organised crime.
''I think all sports fans, including me, find this pretty
sickening,'' Ms Gillard said.
''We are people who go and sit at grounds or watch sport on
TV and marvel at amazing sporting prowess. We cheer on the
deeds. And the sense that anything we've seen has actually
been fuelled by banned substances I think would be pretty
sickening for sports fans. It's pretty sickening for me.''
She did not have a personal message for Mr Key concerning the
issue, but said the Australian Government would provide all
the information it could.
The commission reported this week that the links between
professional sporting bodies, the use of prohibited
substances and organised crime may have resulted in
match-fixing and fraudulent manipulation of betting markets.
''If you had asked me to make a guess about doping in
Australian sport I wouldn't have intuitively come out with
the work the crime commission and the doping agency have,''
Ms Gillard said.
Mr Key was so far not aware of any New Zealand sporting body
or individual person caught up in the doping scandal.
''We have got no particular reason to believe there are
issues but, obviously, we play Australasia-type sporting
Sport Minister Murray McCully announced yesterday three Crown
entities would evaluate the need for a national doping probe
in New Zealand.
Mr Key said it was unhelpful for him to speculate any
further, but admitted the two countries were ''highly
integrated'' when it came to sporting codes.
''We can't rule those things out.''
''I think the New Zealand public, if they believe there are
sportspeople taking illegal substances or they believe there
is match-fixing taking place, they would be shocked, stunned
and extremely disappointed.''
On the subject of New Zealanders living in Australia, Ms
Gillard has made it clear she has no appetite to change their
Ms Gillard said Australia's special relationship with New
Zealand was already reflected in the special visa category
which has been given to New Zealanders entering Australia
It allows them to work without restrictions, as has long been
the case, but prevents them receiving entitlements that
permanent residents and citizens automatically receive - such
as social welfare benefits, access to student loans,
emergency housing and future participation in the national
disability insurance scheme. Ms Gillard said New Zealanders'
ability to work without restriction in Australia was a
benefit no other country received.
''Because of our special relationship we have arrangements
for New Zealanders that have a generosity associated with
them that is not given to any other nationals from any other
country when they come to Australia.''
New Zealanders also received benefits such as access to
Medicare, the baby bonus and family tax benefit.
''It is a relationship we don't accord to any other nationals
from any other part of the world.''
However, Mr Key said he would like to see the matter
addressed and mirror New Zealand's treatment of Australians
''There are one or two anomalies at the moment and from New
Zealand's point of view we would, of course, like to see
those resolved, but we always stand by the view that it is
for the Australian Government.''
Of the 500,000 Kiwis living in Australia, about 100,000 of
the more recent arrivals have lesser rights than the others.
Mr Key said the New Zealand Government's treatment of
Australians would not change.
''I am happy with the situation, just hopeful at some point
the situation might be resolved on the other side of the
Both prime ministers were keen to discuss asylum seekers,
economic relationships and the 2015 Cricket World Cup today
- Additional reporting The New Zealand Herald