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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2432


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (12:36): I am on the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform. I actually attended the public hearings and read the submissions, and I cannot recall, during the public hearings that I was at, one question being asked by a coalition member in relation to recommendation 16. That is the recommendation that we do not have online sport betting companies' logos on sporting uniforms and merchandise. I do not want sports betting logos displayed on the Rugby League uniforms of 10-year-old kids running around the Gold Coast. I do not recall one such question.

The member opposite, the member for Moncrieff, talks about the additional comments of the coalition. Can I just say this: I do not think he has read the coalition committee members' additional comments. He says that he has some objection to recommendation 16. When you read these additional comments, there is no reference whatsoever to recommendation 16, no objection whatsoever to what he had to say.

Mr Ciobo interjecting

Mr NEUMANN: None whatsoever. And yet here he is in here saying this. If the coalition was so opposed to it, why did they not ask questions in relation to it? Why did they not, in fact, take any steps to do a dissenting report? Because the coalition members on the committee supported recommendation 16. Those opposite do not even understand this.

I do not want Rugby League teams for 10-year-olds on the Gold Coast to have uniforms with 'SportsBet.com' on them.

Mr Ciobo interjecting

Mr NEUMANN: And the member opposite mocks. He has mocked today the nearly 100,000 problem gamblers in this country. He has mocked today the approximately 500,000 Australians who are at risk of becoming, or who are, problem gamblers. He has mocked today the $4.7 billion social and economic cost to this country of problem gambling. That is the reality.

The reality is that those opposite in the committee supported what we are recommending. There was no dissenting report. The member for Moncrieff was not there, and clearly has not read the submissions made by organisations, researchers and stakeholders in relation to this. There were some very interesting reports and submissions. Very interesting evidence was given by Dr Sally Gainsbury and Professor Alex Blaszczynski. They gave very cogent evidence of the impact of online gaming on not just adults but on young people. They said that the problem was the normalisation of behaviour. They gave evidence that very young people engage in online gaming and that males as young as 10 are now seeing this as an everyday part of sporting events. They go online and bet because they watch the AFL and the NRL and they see the odds being shown. They think it is all part of it. They get together with their mates and engage in this. This is not something to be mocked or ridiculed or made a joke of. This has a serious impact on children. I suggest the member for Moncrieff should actually have a look at the submissions and read the transcripts. If he had, he would not come in and make a mockery of serious recommendations that are trying to limit the harm for young people, particularly children. There are a number of recommendations here suggesting that we prohibit gambling advertising during times when children are likely to watch.

The impact of problem gambling is a real problem. The submissions said that the characteristics of internet gamblers are different to those of the average person. For example, it is much easier to spend money on internet gambling. The member for Moncrieff should listen and stop talking to his mate over there.

Mr Ciobo: Say something worth while and I'll listen.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Blair does not get to tell members in the chamber what to do.

Mr NEUMANN: Dr Gainsbury and Professor Blaszczynskis said this on the characteristics of internet gamblers in Australia:

… 28% of the preliminary sample of Internet gamblers reported that Internet gambling was too convenient, 25% report that it was easier to spend more money and 13% reported that it was more addictive …

Mr Ciobo interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Moncrieff has had his opportunity.

Mr NEUMANN: That is what the research says. That is what the experts say. I am not aware that the member for Moncrieff has any expertise in the area. As on climate change, we are prepared to listen to the experts and those opposite listen to the sceptics. They are not prepared to listen to the experts with respect to problem gamblers either.

We believe we need to take steps in relation to his matter. That is why the government is acting. We are addressing these concerns. We are banning the promotion of live odds during sporting coverage. When I watch my beloved Brisbane Broncos play and hopefully win the NRL this year, I do not want to see those odds come up every Friday night. You see it at the beginning of almost every game. Even before the game has started you can see it. You watch it during the game and you see the odds change. It is the same thing with the AFL in the southern states. It is just wrong. Children watch this. For example, I have got three little nephews who are mad keen Broncos supporters—they are very sad that Darren Lockyer has retired—and they watch it. Those three little boys sit there on the couch and watch the football. Go to any rugby league contest, go to Lang Park, and see how many kids are there. You can see the normalisation of these problems if you go to any major sporting event.

We are going to ban the promotion of live odds during sporting coverage. We are going to extend precommitment to online betting services. We are going to crack down on online sports betting companies that offer credit and introduce stricter limits on betting inducements. I think that is important as well. We are going to increase the powers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority to enforce these new rules. This is not about big brother; this is about protecting children who are vulnerable and at risk. They do not have the emotional or psychological capacity to understand what is happening to them.

Australians like to have a flutter and a punt and that is fine—Melbourne Cup, lotto, scratchies and raffles. No-one is saying they cannot do that, but we do take steps to protect children. We do take steps to minimise harm for them because we are not all John Stuart Mill on that stuff. We believe the harm is impacting on children and on families. When it comes to this particular issue we regulate activities which are not illegal, for example, alcohol. Do not say we do not regulate the industry; we do. It is the same thing in relation to gambling. We are not saying that someone cannot have a drink, but we do not believe that we should set an example for children that it is okay to drink to excess or that it is normal to drink to excess. It is the same thing with gambling.

The government will engage with the states and territories and we have decided that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy will undertake a review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. I am comforted that the minister has said that review will take into consideration the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, which were released in December last year. The government will release the review in 2012. We have made it plain that, following this, we will introduce legislation to amend the Interactive Gambling Act to get rid of the inconsistencies and ambiguities mentioned in our recommendations and to enable our current commitments and any further reforms that we believe are necessary. We are doing this because we think it is best practice but also because we want to protect people from harm.

I go back to recommendation 16, which the member for Moncrieff mentioned. I want to make it plain that that recommendation refers to children's replica sports shirts. He was in this place making a mockery of a recommendation supported by his side, this side and the Independents that we should restrict certain forms of sports-betting advertising, that it should not go on the shirts of 10-year-old kids who play rugby league on the Gold Coast. That is what we were saying, and he comes into this place and does that.

We have also recommended that there be restrictions on the giving away of free merchandising because, if free merchandising depicts betting company logos, kids run around with those and they think it is all part of it. They think the name of the Brisbane Broncos, or the name of some sporting team they are devoted to or follow, is identified with a sports-betting company. A 10-year-old kid thinks it is great. But look at what the experts are telling us: that 10-year-old kid is just the sort of kid, who, with his mates, will go on the computer, go on the internet and start engaging in online betting. That is what the submissions said and that is what the experts said. I say to the member for Moncrieff and anyone who might be listening: that is why that recommendation is in this report and that is why it was unanimous. We followed the expert advice.

There are many other recommendations that I think will help. We are talking about education campaigns, because it is important to educate people. It is important to educate young people and to highlight the risk of harm. We think it is also important that there be better research. There is not enough research in this area to indicate the impact on families and individuals. We also want to make sure that there are consistent consumer protections and standards for tighter controls on the practice of credit betting, which we think is important. Some evidence that we got was really quite startling, and I will never forget it. It was in relation to how these organisations are quite nefarious and insidious in the way that they suck people in, even experienced businessman, to get involved in websites that look like they are from Australia but really could be from Gibraltar or anywhere. I remember distinctly Senator Xenophon talking of someone who consulted him, a very experienced businessman who got sucked in entirely and lost about $90,000.

So we are going to work with other governments. We are going to consult with industry and we are going to take steps to address this problem. I do think there is a need for a review of the 90-day time limit to verify identity when opening a betting account—the 90-day period is time to pause, consider and reflect—with a view to reducing it to 72 hours if we need to in order to minimise the risk of minors using the current time frame to gamble illegally. All through this inquiry I asked question after question about the impact on families, individuals and children. All through the inquiry we got the same message from every expert who gave evidence about the impact on individuals.

There are five million Australians who are either problem gamblers or at risk of being problem gamblers. With only about 15 per cent of problem gamblers seeking help, this is not a problem to be mocked, because it impacts on families and communities around the country. It impacts on families and their friends, on employers of problem gamblers and on children and it brings forward generational problem after generational problem.

We think that the unanimous, bipartisan recommendations of this committee are worth consideration, and the government has committed to considering those. Coalition members of the committee played a constructive role. I would suggest that the member for Moncrieff go and chat to them and that he also read the submissions and the transcripts and see the evidence, see what the experts say and know. The recommendations put by this committee are based on evidence, on best practice and on what should happen. It is in the best interests of our country, of communities like his and mine in South-East Queensland, and it is in the best interests of individuals and families throughout the country. It is a shame that the member opposite comes in here and makes fun of such a difficult problem.

Debate adjourned.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 12:51 .