It’s been a tough few weeks in sport and politics.
Justice Minister Jason Clare hauled the boss of every major code to Canberra to tell them and the nation that graft and corruption was rife in sport.
Drugs, physicians, trainers, players, gaming, organised crime gangs – the lot.
As we heard of match fixing in multiple sporting codes, we shook our heads in disgust.
Steve “Blocker” Roach, no on-field-angel in his day, summed it up pretty well in the Illawarra Mercury: “If there’s 100 players, entire teams, whatever, found guilty .... we don’t want them in our game. …Throw them out.”
Meanwhile up in Sydney, the ICAC examines its bevy of reluctant star witnesses.
The evidence – gut turning – is made worse by the arrogant, evasive demeanour of those caught in the snare.
But Obeid the elder, took the cake when he boasted in ICAC that, “I’ve spent more money than you will ever earn in your life.” Labor people turned their heads in disgust. Labor stands for equality and fairness – not hierarchy, greed and privilege. This arrogant superior attitude contradicts every Labor belief.
Similarly, sports fans crushed by news that their club may be involved in systematic cheating, ask ourselves, is this a blight on me as well? Can I wear my club jumper in public, or am I tainted by association? These are the right questions to ask, but I for one refuse to accept that we are all to blame.
This defiance has a use-by date. As fans, as party members, as community leaders – we have a responsibility to defend and speak out on the values we stand for.
Labor, like most of our great sporting clubs, traces its origins to struggling communities at the turn of the last Century. The Labour Movement formed a party to run for office so that government would improve the lot of working people. When someone uses that office to advance their own cause they disgrace our founding purpose.
When players engage with criminals to corrupt the sport, when they cheat, they defile the trust we place in them as inspirations for our kids and our community.
In the words of Blocker Roach - “We don’t want them in our game .... throw them out.”
Stephen Jones is the Federal Member for Throsby and a keen sports fan and this piece is taken from a recent speech made in the House of Representatives on February 13. www.stephenjones.org.au