Betting irregularities on the Australian of the Year Awards have been referred to the national criminal intelligence agency amid allegations a winner’s name leaked ahead of the announcement.
Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who has responsibilities for the agency that will look into the matter, said the allegations were serious and needed to be investigated.
The National Australia Day Council (NADC) confirmed a News Corp report that it made the referral on the day the winners were announced.
“The NADC has been concerned about betting on the Australian of the Year Awards for a number of years and spoken to authorities about having these markets shut down,” a spokesperson said.
“The NADC referred betting on this year’s Australian of the Year Awards to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission for investigation on Monday, January 25.”
Mr Dutton said he had spoken to Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Mike Feelan and was confident he could investigate the issue.
“Australians enjoy a bet but they want to make sure that when they’re placing a bet that it’s on a fair market that it’s not rigged, that it’s not corrupt, and there are allegations here that need to be investigated,” he told Channel Nine.
Tasmanian sexual assault survivor and advocate Grace Tame was named the 2021 Australian of the Year, beating other candidates including former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy and the former commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons.
There is no suggestion a finalist was involved in the alleged leak. Finalists are not aware of the outcome of the awards until the winners are announced.
The winners were decided in December and around 180 people, including staff, contractors and those involved in the broadcast of the event, signed non-disclosure agreements.
“The NADC requires all staff, contractors and broadcast partners who need to be advised of winners before the national announcement to sign non-disclosure agreements,” the NADC spokesperson said.
“This agreement has a specific non-betting clause.”