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Thursday, 28 June 2001
Page: 29003

Mr ENTSCH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources) (1:27 AM) —I thank all members on both sides who have contributed to this debate on the Interactive Gambling Bill 2001. With this bill the government is taking a stance to prevent the escalation of the harmful effects of gambling on the Australian community. The states and territories have not been able to produce a nationally accepted regulatory code for online gambling. It is necessary for the Commonwealth to provide strong leadership on this issue. I am aware of criticisms that the bill will force Australia to use offshore Internet gambling services. The government has addressed this in the following manner. The bill will ban the advertising of interactive gambling services, which will limit the access of offshore providers to the Australian market. The bill applies the offence of providing an interactive gambling service to offshore operators, which will deter them from signing up Australian customers.

The government does not support an approach that seeks uniform national regulation of interactive gambling. The regulatory approach provides, in effect, a stimulus to the growth of this form of gambling. Efforts by states and territories to reach agreement on national standards for regulating Internet gambling have not succeeded, despite the Prime Minister's announcement of the Commonwealth's concerns in December 1999. There is no reason to think that the states and territories can restrict the growth in new forms of gambling any more than they have been able to with their poker machines.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.