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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 116

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (20:09): I rise to indicate my opposition to the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Lottery Betting) Bill 2018. My concern is that, as a consequence of the passage of this bill, a business will have to close: a business that employs Australians, has directors and shareholders and is an entrepreneurial business, a new business in Australia having a go and doing all the things that we expect businesses to do. I thought about summarising my concerns about this bill in my own words, but I have actually decided that perhaps the best thing to do would be to read from a letter that I received from the Newsagents Association of NSW and ACT Ltd, which states:

Dear Senator Leyonhjelm,

We urgently write to inform you of the unified position of the representative bodies of the majority of Australian newsagents in relation to the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Lottery Betting) Bill 2018, currently before the Senate, a move by the Australian government to ban international lottery betting. Together, we represent 2,000 active newsagents which participate in our industry engagement activities across Australia in each state. Our members do not want a blanket ban on lottery betting, which will harm revenue for already struggling newsagents. It will allow the Tabcorp owned Tatts Group to have a complete monopoly over the lottery market.

This bill is the product of a misleading campaign instigated and funded by the most dominant player in Australian lotteries, Tatts Tabcorp, who are now under investigation by regulators in Victoria and New South Wales following complaints about misleading and inaccurate claims. As part of their campaign, Tatts has spent more than $5 million and has possibly provided financial support to the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association, or ALNA, to participate in the campaign. ALNA does not represent the voice of Australian newsagents and has a minority of fewer than 750 paid members of the approximate 2,000 newsagents Australia-wide.

Our members were not consulted on the impact this would have on their business. The consequences would result in a monopoly who currently competes with its franchisees via its online websites. As Tatts' product sales are growing towards 20 per cent of all lottery sales, at the expense of instore lottery sales, they do not share any online commission with newsagents. Yet the proposed arrangement by Lottoland provides newsagents with a 12 per cent commission on all sales. This is valuable extra income which contributes to the sustainability of our industry.

We see overseas lottery organisations opening a new market to draw business into newsagents, with new customers entering our shops. Their customer base does not cannibalise domestic lottery markets and, in fact, is a complementary service that allows new revenue streams to be opened. A ban on overseas lottery betting will limit competition and economic growth, with serious ramifications for the long-term sustainability of our struggling industry.

That summarises my position quite well: we should not be closing down businesses, we should be encouraging them. This is a new area of activity, and this bill is a shameful protectionist measure to lock out a new and innovative business. I condemn this bill.