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Monday, 27 October 1997
Page: 9846


Mr PETER MORRIS(4.32 p.m.) —I strongly support this private members' motion on gambling which is before the parliament. I will not repeat what was covered by the previous speaker, the member for McPherson (Mr Bradford). I simply say that gambling is an insidious disease that is being promoted across this country, sponsored in the main by government agencies and the stock exchange. It is a problem that derives from the failure of state and federal governments to come to appropriate arrangements in respect of funding the services of each level of government.

We cannot run away from it as federal members of parliament and say these agencies and the regulation of gambling is a state responsibility. The problem starts here and the problem has to be solved here. When members on both sides of the chamber, as is taking place in this debate, recognise the problem and are aware of it in their electorate, that ought to be sufficient to lead us on both sides of the House to get together and to pull the Premiers in. There ought to be a special Premiers Conference to deal with the national addiction to gambling and the government sponsored promotion of gambling.

I will read a series of headlines. `Gambling addicts pay high prices' reads the Telegraph of 16 February 1997. The Sydney Morning Herald of 13 September 1997 had the headline `The wages of sin' and it gave a lot of detail on the losses and the damage being done through gambling and the promotion of gambling. The Newcastle Morning Herald of 8 October and 10 October said `Dream on Keno gambler' and `Double-up Keno a dangerous game'.

Those headlines are about the odds, and the odds of winning are millions to one. The campaign is being targeted at youth, particularly through the use of well-known sporting identities, with the slogan `A dollar to play and a million to take away'. That is straight deception. It is targeted at young people, because once they are hooked you have got them. As their income goes up, so their losses on gambling go up, and so the impact of gambling goes up.

The Daily Telegraph of 2 September 1997 had an article about how, in four hours, a man lost $30,000 playing keno. The Australian Financial Review of the weekend of 18-19 October had the headline `Victorian racing has a flutter on women'. Mr Piggott of Tabcorp in Victoria goes on to describe how it has had to expand its market, expand its industry and convert those occasional gamblers of a few weeks in the year to year-round gamblers. That means the destruction of families and the destruction of lives.

The front page headline in today's Sydney Morning Herald reads `Unmasked: our new drug bosses'. This story deals with one of the drug bosses—the top heroin distributor, as alleged in this newspaper report—who has lost more than $20 million at the Sydney casino since it opened two years ago. How many young Australians died on the streets from drug abuse, how many new drug addicts were established and how many other people were attracted into drug abuse to supply that $20 million? That $20 million came out of Australian families.

The level of advertising reminds me of what we used to have with tobacco. We banned the advertising of tobacco where it was linked to an illusory lifestyle. But this same kind of insidious advertising now takes place: `A dollar to pay and a million to take away'. The odds are about 5½ million to one. It is deceptive, it is insidious and it ought to be banned, or at least the odds of winning ought to be published. At the time those ads go on, in the same way that the warning of ill health is published for cigarette smoking, so ought the odds of winning be advertised.

That advertising is directed at young people to hook them for life, and especially at young women—as the newspaper report shows. It is directed at people who are susceptible to this crude type of advertising that portrays an illusory kind of lifestyle that can be won so easily. It is directed to appeal to greed and human weakness. It leads in some cases to addiction to drugs.

We have banned tobacco advertising, we warn people of the dangers of alcohol and now we are out there with headlines like `States pave way for Net gambling' and `HudCon retains majority stake option in casino deal'. The ultimate abuse of this process is that the stock exchange is now promoting shares, a return on dividends and a return on investment on the basis of how many fellow Australians can be suborned, tricked and fooled into wasting their money. And last of all is the damage done to Australian families. (Time expired)