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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1468

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (21:02): I am not trying to be difficult on this; I just think it is important the people of Australia know what the extent is of the offshore, illegal sites problem. The government says it is considering further research. Reference was made to it in the O'Farrell review, and I was fortunate enough to sit down with Mr O'Farrell as part of that review and give him my views and that was fed into the report, but it does not seem to be the case that there are any measures to deal with this. My colleague Senator Kakoschke-Moore refers to page 150 of the O'Farrell review which says:

Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should recommit to Gambling Research Australia to ensure that research funds are directed towards maximising the information available to policy makers, academics, the community and industry about the nature, prevalence and impact of gambling across Australia.

That is a very broad recommendation, but what concrete, practical, rigorous measures is the government proposing to determine the level of offshore gambling?

There is an estimate of $500 million. For all we know, it could be $1 billion. It could be $200 million or any figure that you could pluck out of thin air. Surely, if it is expected that the vast majority of these transactions occur with credit cards or can be discernible and traceable through banks and financial institutions and credit card providers, then surely we should—I am just trying to understand if the government is prepared to commit to going down that path. Presumably there might be some people using bitcoins. We can probably guess or estimate how many people would be using bitcoins, but I imagine it would be a very small part of it. I think it is not unreasonable to ask, after 16 years of the operation of this act, to understand where that figure of $400 million comes from. What rigor would be employed to determine once and for all, with some degree of specificity, how much is actually being lost to these offshore sites?