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Parliament House, Canberra: transcript of doorstop interview, 28 March 2001: Telstra, online gambling.



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  Australian Labor Party   National ALP

Stephen Smith - Doorstop - Telstra, Online Gambling http://www.alp.org.au/media/0301/ssmcact280301.html Tuesday, 03 April 2001

Doorstop Interview

Stephen Smith - Shadow Minister for Communications

Subjects: Telstra, Online Gambling

Transcript - Parliament House, Canberra - 28 March 2001

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

SMITH: Yesterday in the House I asked Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party, John Anderson, who other than Mr McGechie satisfied the Government's election commitment and the statutory requirement that Telstra have at least two directors on its board who represented rural and regional Australia.

As you saw yesterday, Mr Anderson didn't know and couldn't volunteer a comment.

Overnight we've seen Communication Minister Richard Alston's spokesperson say that John Ralph, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank satisfies this requirement because he has a large property. He has a large farm.

The Government obviously has the view that Telstra's rural and regional board representation is satisfied by the top end of town having a farm. This is consistent with the approach that Mr Besley, for example, took when he held up the Commonwealth Bank as being a role model for the provision of services to rural and regional Australia.

Today we see the Government having Telstra in breach of its own legislation and the Government saying that having a farm at the top end of town is sufficient representation for rural and regional Australia.

Secondly, we've seen the Government announce its online gambling ban. And it's really summarised as this: it's OK for foreigners to gamble on Australian online gambling sites. It's OK for Australians to gamble on foreign online gambling sites but it's not OK for Australians to gamble on Australian online gambling sites, which just happen to be the sites where you might be able to impose the most effective consumer and social protections.

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The Government's legislation is unworkable. It's effectively made Australia's e-commerce, or online credentials a joke and the only person who will be smiling or happy about any of this is Pokie Pete, the Arts Minister.

JOURNALIST: Are you going to be trying to put up amendments to this, or just outright block the Bill?

SMITH: We opposed the temporary moratorium in the House and in the Senate and we will oppose this attempt at a permanent ban in the House and in the Senate on the same basis. A temporary moratorium is a short-term ban. The Government is now proposing a permanent ban - it's unworkable, it's a joke and the only person who will be smiling today will be Pokie Pete, the Arts Minister.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

SMITH: If you want to try and ensure that there are protections for consumers and protections against the adverse social consequences of gambling, whether that is done online or off-line, then the most effective way of doing that is by imposing those restrictions and those safeguards where we can best do it, which is our own jurisdiction. It is simply unworkable to try and pretend that you can stop people utilising the Net. www.onlinegamblingaustralia will simply become www.onlinegamblingbermuda. If you want to ensure that people who will suffer the consequences, the adverse social consequences and the adverse personal consequences of too much gambling, then you've got to try and impose the social restrictions and the consumer protections in our own jurisdictions. We can best provide that regime, or those measures, here. You'll simply send people offshore without any of those protections.

Ends

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Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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