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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 3091


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (19:03): I wish to echo in the strongest of terms my support for the member for Denison's motion and, particularly, my support for his concerns about the advertising of gambling during television sporting games. I also wish to acknowledge and thank the member for Denison for his tireless work on reforming predatory gambling in Australia. My Senate colleagues and I will continue to work closely with the member on this important community issue.

We know that the overwhelming majority of the Australian community opposes gambling advertising during prime time sporting events, with the protection of children being the most vocal of the arguments put forward. The only way that children are going to be protected is if we close the loophole that allows gambling ads on sporting broadcasts during G-rated periods.

If one had to choose a word to describe the effect of prime-time gambling upon children, it would be: insidious. As the member for Denison referred to, a study by Deakin University Associate Professor Samantha Thomas found that three-quarters of children can recall the name of at least one sports-betting brand, and one-quarter of the children could identify four or more brands. This is reprehensible. How can the government not only condone but also support this behaviour?

Predatory gambling targets adults. That is one thing. But predatory advertising of gambling products during prime-time viewing, when children—we know—are watching television is absolutely disgraceful. Do not let anyone convince you that running wall-to-wall sporting ads on television during prime-time viewing is a victimless crime. Predatory gambling costs the Australian community approximately $5 billion a year. It is destroying lives, families and our communities. It is the leading cause of homelessness. And gambling addicts struggle to kick the addiction and rebuild their shattered lives.

Can you imagine if the government allowed ads for other addictive products during prime-time television? Thankfully, we no longer have television adverts promoting cigarettes. That was something during prime-time hours, when children were watching, not that long ago. Unfortunately, just like cigarettes before them, the gambling giants do not appear to be averse to hooking the punters while they are young. Such prime-time advertising only serves to normalise this behaviour in the pliable minds of young Australians. It is when gambling becomes addictive that it becomes a problem.

It is deeply concerning that the study I just referred to also found that three-quarters of children thought betting was an entirely normal part of the sports process—the normalisation process is already well and truly underway. Unfortunately, the two major parties are beholden to the vested interests of the gambling lobby and have shut out the overwhelming community demand for real reform.

I would like to touch upon the Reverend Lynn Arnold, a former Premier of South Australia, who, wisely, recently said that gambling comes in new forms now—where someone can sit in their home while losing their home. Dr Charles Livingstone and Dr Maggie Johnson, from Monash University, recently searched the Australian Electoral Commission's political donations record and found that between July 1999 and June 2015 just one pro-gambling organisation—Clubs New South Wales—declared political donations to the two major parties of over $2.5 million. The coalition received $1.6 million of this money. This is just one of many gambling groups that make donations to our major parties.

I urge the government and the opposition to look past the donations, look past the vested interests and look at the real issue. And I urge the government—in no uncertain terms—to listen to the Australian community and act. I urge you to close the loophole that allows gambling ads in sports broadcasts during G-rated periods and to close it quickly—before an entire generation becomes irrevocably primed to debilitating gambling addiction. It is not too much to ask.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Federation C hamber adjourned at 19:09