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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4431

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (20:03): I recognise that we are in a time of incredibly fast change, especially in the business world. Newsagents and lottery agents have been going through an enormous transition in their businesses over the last decade or more. We've seen an assault on their core lines by supermarkets, who compete with the sale of gift cards, wrapping paper, newspapers and magazines, and other big box retailers. I very clearly remember buying schoolbooks for my kids from local newsagents in Ipswich at the start of every year, whereas most people now shop at Officeworks or even order their schoolbooks online.

Newsagents across this country have, however, been resilient, and they have had to change their business models to achieve more sales in other areas, like gifts, homewares, toys and even coffee, as a result of more people sourcing their news content through online services like social media.

I might take the opportunity right now to thank newsagents for their work in helping to save the iconic Darrell Lea brand. Newsagents played a very significant role in the restructuring of how Australia's favourite non-halal-certified chocolate brand reached consumers across the country.

Shop rents are absolutely excruciating, especially if you're in a shopping centre. And let's not forget the hours that go into any small business—I know; I've had one of them—especially newsagencies, which are often open seven days a week, as are takeaways. It's bloody hard being in small business these days, but I am glad that so many persevere and so many newsagents have taken the necessary steps to evolve. They continue to employ over 15,000 Australians and contribute many billions of dollars in annual turnover to the economy, along with significant taxes.

However, there are some industries that should not be able to evolve, because of their impact on the consumer and on business. One of these industries is lotteries. This is a tightly regulated industry, and, as such, Australians who want to have a punt are protected. But when a loophole exists that allows businesses to exploit an industry, it is at the expense of the consumers whom the regulations exist to protect. These are the same regulations that make it illegal to sell a scratchie online or play a poker machine online. But a loophole in the federal Interactive Gambling Act has allowed online bookmakers to use questionable practices to promote misleading betting on underlying lotteries while siphoning money offshore. Meanwhile, the newsagents, whose customers are being targeted and who offer genuine lotteries, must follow the regulations that they adhere to, ensuring that customers are protected and that the prizes are in the regulated pool for each draw. The problem here is not that newsagents are restricted by regulations; it is that fake lotteries are not.

The truth is that taxes collected from genuine Lotto sales purchased in newsagencies across Australia generate the state and territory governments over $1 billion—money that goes towards hospitals, community groups and not-for-profits. Tell me: how much does the Queensland government receive from fake lotteries' taxes? Nothing. How much does the New South Wales government receive from fake lotteries' taxes? Nothing. How about the Western Australian government? You guessed it: zip. Not one state benefits from fake lotteries, because the money gets siphoned offshore—to countries like Gibraltar, which operates as a tax haven.

Call me a protectionist if you like. I want Australian dollars to stay here in Australia. And anyone who votes against this bill is anti-Australian. They clearly don't like supporting Aussie charities and sick kids. You're just horrible, heartless people.

To the 4,000-plus mum-and-dad newsagent business owners across Australia today: you deserve our respect. You deserve our vote. And I'm proud that One Nation gave you the initial voice to have this bill put to our parliament, to give you hope long into the future. The One Nation senators, Senator Peter Georgiou and I, will support the passage of this bill, the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Lottery Betting) Bill 2018, with the greatest of pleasure.