Award betting scandal goes to crime watchdog
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission has been notified of potential betting irregularities involving the naming of the Australian of the Year winner Grace Tame.
News Corp can reveal the National Australia Day Council has made a referral to the ACIC that a potential leak of the winner's name may have affected betting markets.
Ms Tame went from an outside chance with the punters to a firm favourite in December. This was the period when she was chosen as the winner of Australia's top award, although her name was not announced to the public until Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed it on January 25.
Around 180 people were advised in December that she was the winner, including the small number of staff employed at the National Australia Day Council, the government-owned non-profit organisation that runs the awards each year.
Other people advised at the time - who are all required to sign non-disclosure agreements - included board members and people involved in the production of the Australia Day eve broadcast where the winners are publicly announced.
A National Australia Day Council spokesman confirmed the matter had been referred to the ACIC.
"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,'' he said.
"The NADC referred betting on this year's Australian of the Year Awards to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission on Monday 25 January.
"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. This agreement has a specific non-betting clause.''
Ms Tame, a young Tasmanian woman, was awarded for her extraordinary bravery and advocacy for sexual assault survivors.
The December betting plunge raised eyebrows in Canberra because she did not have a national profile outside her home state prior to her electrifying speech at the awards ceremony on Monday night. Neither Ms Tame, nor any of the other nominees, knew who the winner was prior to her name being announced publicly.
The referral to the ACIC was made hours before the winner was announced.
In the lead-up to December, most betting money had gone to two high-profile nominees, former Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy and former NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who had shot to national prominence during the COVID-19 crisis and last summer's bushfire emergency.
Leading betting agency Sportsbet opened the market for Ms Tame at $6, but by December 30, she was the favourite at $1.30. On January 25 her odds were $1.50.
Prof Murphy opened favourite at $1.50, but drifted to $10 by January 21, although his odds tightened late in January and he was $8 by January 25.
Mr Fitzsimmons opened second favourite at $2.25, and drifted to $7.50 by late December, and $2.50 by January 25.
Originally published as Aus of the Year award betting scandal goes to crime watchdog