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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7267

Mrs MOYLAN (Pearce) (10:34): From the outset I acknowledge the excellent work by the Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, the member for Moreton, in the conduct of this inquiry and by my colleagues on this committee. In its submission to the inquiry into the regulation of billboard and outdoor advert­ising, the Australian Christian Lobby clearly summed up why this inquiry is important. As the member for Moreton has quite rightly said, this notion had widespread acceptance in the many submissions that were made to the committee on this topic. The Australian Christian Lobby stated:

By its very nature, outdoor advertising is a public broadcast medium, and because it is static, can be examined more closely by members of the public. It is not possible to filter those who see the advertising and there is no opportunity for members of the community to exercise choice not to see it.

I think this is the nub of the problem: because outdoor advertising is so public, often being near impossible to ignore, there is little opportunity for the public to avoid its messages and images, and therefore it is important for the government to consider its impact and indeed the regulatory system and framework around outdoor advertising.

The inquiry investigated whether advert­ising self-regulation is effective for outdoor advertising. The committee found that outdoor advertising is a specific category of advertising that requires its own specific code of practice. The separate code of practice is required because outdoor advert­ising occupies public space, can be viewed by an unrestricted, untargeted audience and has a cumulative impact on the community through the social messages it conveys. In addition to establishing a code of practice for outdoor advertising, the self-regulatory system in general requires strengthening. That is the real finding of the report. The committee was concerned that the comp­laints based process placed all the burden of monitoring inappropriate content on the public rather than more responsibility on the regulatory agencies.

The Australian Council on Children and the Media noted that billboards and outdoor advertising are one of the least regulated forms of advertising under our legal system. Children in particular can be affected by this form of advertising. The ubiquitous nature of it can make many inured to it, yet it is still playing a significant role in shaping views of young people. Food marketing in particular has been directly linked with children's food choices and their diets. As the majority of food marketing is for unhealthy food such as sugary breakfast cereals, confectionery, high-fat savoury snacks, soft drinks and fast food, the quality of children's diets can be impacted and ultimately affect their health and their weight. Obesity in Australian children has tripled in the past decade, and half of these children will remain obese throughout their adult life, during which they will be four times as likely to contract type 2 diabetes, for example. The Australian Assoc­iation of National Advertisers' Food and Beverage Code restricts the advertising of unhealthy food products to children. How­ever, outdoor advertising is visible to all, including children, and the advertising messages are absorbed through widespread and constant exposure. The committee was disappointed, for example, that sport sponsorship was not included in the code and recommended that it be recognised as a form of advertising and therefore be subject to advertising codes of practice related to food and children.

This report, Reclaiming public space: Inquiry into the regulation of outdoor and billboard advertising, provides an excellent framework for improving the regulation of outdoor advertising and I commend all of the recommendations to the House.

The SPEAKER: Does the member for Moreton wish to move a motion in connection with the report to enable it to be debated on a later occasion?

Mr PERRETT: I move:

That the House take note of the report.

The SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 39 the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.