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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 1058


Mr CIOBO (Moncrieff) (20:13): I rise this evening to speak on the motion with respect to problem gambling and gambling reform. I must say that I have had a long and abiding interest in this for a number of reasons. I note that the member for Denison and the member for Lyne are both, of course, in the chamber this evening. There is one issue that I would like to touch upon as part of this broader discussion of gambling reform, that being the fact that the Independents have said on numerous occasions that they remain committed to the Labor Party on the basis that the Labor Party is effecting good governance. But when it comes to what has been the epicentre of the discussion from a policy perspective on problem gambling and on gambling reform over the past, roughly, year and a half since the last federal election, we know—and the member for Denison is still, no doubt, feeling the bruises off the back of the complete and utter betrayal of his bona fides by the Prime Minister—that the Independents were basically grist for the mill. We had a Prime Minister who said and did whatever she thought was required of her in order to harness the support of the member for Denison, the member for Lyne and others, and then chewed that up and spat it out on the basis of political expediency.

It was obvious to those of us who have been around this chamber for some time—and I have the privilege of having a couple of years of service under my belt now—that this was always going to be something that the Labor Party was going to walk away from. And I have to say that, standing on the floor of the Bankstown Sports Club faced with three members of the Labor Party, including a cabinet minister, and surrounded as I was with angry Labor heartland people, I knew that there was no way that the Labor Party was going to continue to embrace its so-called commitment to gambling reform. So it was on the basis of political expediency that the written commitment by the Prime Minister to the member for Denison was junked, as was the case in terms of the Prime Minister's commitment to not introducing a carbon tax, and a whole raft of different things—a people's congress on climate change et cetera. There is such an endless list, that I will not go through them all.

We know that political expediency reigns supreme with this Prime Minister, and so the member for Denison was left high and dry. But what concerns me the most is that the Independents potentially are supporting something, in terms of a so-called trial, that completely runs contrary to good governance in this country—a benchmark that all members should remain adhered to, especially those who say that their support of the federal government is dependent on it.

On 10 February 2012—only three days ago—there was a very interesting announcement that was made with respect to best practice for regulation requirements. It was issued by the Australian government, very under the radar. I will read it:

On 21 January 2012, the Prime Minister—

and others—

jointly announced the Government’s plan to tackle problem gambling. Of the regulatory measures announced, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has responsibility for

banning the promotion of live odds during sports coverage;

extending pre-commitment to online betting services; and

cracking down on online sports betting companies offering credit and introduce stricter limits on betting inducements.

A Regulation Impact Statement was required to inform these regulatory decisions but was not prepared. Consequently, the Office of Best Practice Regulation has assessed the proposal for these measures as being non-compliant with the Australian Government’s best practice regulation requirements.

So a department of the Australian government that the Prime Minister presides over and that the Independents support says:

… the Office of Best Practice Regulation has assessed the proposal for these measures—

that is, the announced trial—

as being non-compliant with the Australian Government’s best practice regulation requirements.

So what does the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, say about the Office of Best Practice? Again, I will quote from a release from the minister dated 28 October 2010, where she says:

Well designed regulation is of critical importance to the Australian economy. Good regulation can encourage innovation and minimise compliance costs for business, including small business, and the not-for-profit sector. Poorly designed regulation, however, can cause frustration and impose unnecessary costs on all sectors of the community.

We have a government that are committed to political expediency, to imposing costs on this sector and to being seen to be doing rather than actually doing something for problem gamblers—and they stand condemned.