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Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Bill 2014

14 May 2014


Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (11:35): I rise to speak on the Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Bill and to express my support for the work of the minister. The purpose of this bill is to protect major sporting event sponsorship and licensing revenues from being undermined by unauthorised commercial use of event images, signs and logos for the Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Cup 2015, the International Cricket Council’s Cricket World Cup 2015 and the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast—for which the Treasurer announced $156 million in federal funding in last night’s budget.

This bill is consistent with the approach the Australian government took when through previous legislation to protect the Sydney Olympics Games in 2000 and 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. This unauthorised commercial use includes ambush marketing techniques, which we have seen at previous events on the world stage and which have been progressively banned, as a standard rule, from major events in Australia. Major sporting event imagery and branding provides a crucial source of commercial value which helps to offset the great costs of hosting such events. Too often the debate on event hosting focuses too greatly on these costs, and not on the many broader and long-term social, economic and civic benefits received by the host city, including huge boosts in infrastructure development and associated tourism.

Across the globe, our nation has a great reputation for hosting highly successful and well-organised major sporting events. This success is wholly dependent on state and federal governments playing a crucial role in preparing a strong regulatory environment. The three events that are the focus of this bill bring representatives from over 60 countries to Australia, together with thousands of fans, officials and international media. These events present a great opportunity to showcase our country from a tourism, trade and event delivery perspective. Television rights, ticket sales, sponsorship and licensing are crucial to ensure that the event can be delivered successfully, and these commercial realities necessitate the protections proposed in this bill.

Ambush marketing provides unscrupulous businesses with the opportunity to associate their branding with the event at a limited cost, thereby diminishing the value of official sponsorship and reducing the incentive for commercial organisations to support these events. This in turn threatens the future sustainability of the event and tarnishes the host nation’s reputation as a commercial, sporting and tourist destination.

In balance, it is also important to take a pragmatic approach to protect the community’s rights to freedom of expression. As a result, generic words like ‘cricket’, ‘football’ and ‘Commonwealth’ have been excluded from protection, and state, territory and local governments will still be permitted to utilise event images to promote the festival that surrounds the event. The bill also protects the rights of existing trademark holders to use associated branding to carry out their business functions and for sporting organisations to utilise a connection to the events for reasonable needs around fundraising and athlete preparation. The bill provides various remedies to the authorising bodies and authorised persons to enforce their rights. It will be the authorising body and the authorised person who may bring an action against an unauthorised user. This will not be the responsibility of the government. Each schedule of the bill will cease to have effect within one year after the completion of each major sporting event.

Our great sporting events are now broadcast to the world and when our athletes travel their feats are broadcast live into living rooms back home. Our sporting culture has largely developed around participation, possibly because during our early development more sophisticated entertainment or cultural pursuits were not so readily available. In searching for reasons that we are not the force we once were in some sports, it is often suggested that it is because our young people now have so many other interests. This has occurred alongside a sharp decline in access to those sports that once dominated our participation landscape and which, as a direct result, we once dominated on the world stage. There has been a cultural change but the legacy of our great sportsmen and women remains. This stretches from our greatest cricketers and football teams to our greatest women athletes who are so often referred to by their first names—our Dawn or our Evonne. This great legacy continues to grow and advertises to the world our values, our character and our culture. In turn, our great events must be protected.

Sport has become big business and now so much more so because of the opportunity that is created when our great events are combined with our greatest athletes to make Australia a sporting destination for world tourism. Opportunities exist to combine these dynamic components to leverage our events to drive sports tourism; to use our great sports men and women to attract a new generation of tourists. Sports tourism is estimated to be worth $600 billion per year globally. Sports tourists are considered high-yield tourists, with Tourism Research Australia estimating their value to the Australian economy at $232 per day. Sports tourism is a natural consequence of our history of participation and the legacy of our great champions, bringing together the values of our national character to flow into opportunities of great economic value to our community. In order to best harness these opportunities we need strong events and the continuation of our reputation as one of the world’s best event-hosting nations. This bill forms an important part of this process. I congratulate the minister and commend the bill to the House.

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