30 May 2023, 15:50
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan):
I rise as part of this cognate debate to speak specifically to the Gambling Regulation Amendment Bill 2023 on behalf of Legalise Cannabis Victoria. We recognise that the bill will provide the government with the benefit of greater marketplace competition in awarding multiple wagering and betting licences after the expiry of the current licence and that that may ultimately lead to an improved financial position for the state. As it has the flavour of a supply bill, in that it relates to revenue generation for the state, we are in a general mind to support the bill in principle on that basis. However, we also recognise that this bill fails to acknowledge a broader, long-term plan to reduce the harm caused by the pervasive issue of problem gambling. In addition, by allowing for the awarding of multiple licences, this bill could further encourage predatory gambling tactics. We understand well the toll that gambling takes on our community. Sadly, it can be measured in terms of lives, in financial losses, in addiction and in family violence.
We, as a society, should not be blindly normalising betting. But sports betting is on the rise, and advertising for sports betting during sporting events has reached absolute saturation point. You need only watch one game of AFL on the telly to understand just how much betting advertising our children are being exposed to; in fact they are swimming in it. Our kids should be cheering on their teams and their sporting heroes, not learning to love the odds.
As we know, broadcast media, including advertising, is the domain of the federal government, and recently we have seen a strong cross-party push federally to do something about it. But that does not mean we cannot do something about gambling advertising here in Victoria. Broadcast media may be the domain of the feds, but static advertising is the domain of the state government. That is why we are here suggesting that Parliament act. Already in Victoria we ban gambling advertising on roads and public transport and within 150 metres of schools, clearly in recognition of the potential harms to children. Now it is time we do the same for the 90,000 Victorians attending a blockbuster match at the MCG, especially those impressionable and suggestible children in that crowd. To that end I will be moving amendments to this bill, and this may be an opportune time for those to be circulated.
**Amendments circulated pursuant to standing orders.**
Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan):
The amendments will take the list of sites where betting advertising is already banned and add sporting grounds to it. Further, the amendments clarify that a scoreboard at a ground is part of static digital advertising, to which the ban will apply. This is an easily achievable gambling harm minimisation measure, and we cannot see a reason why this Parliament and this government would not support it. It would deliver evidence-based gambling harm reduction without preventing gambling use. These amendments are overwhelmingly supported by the community. A recent poll of the AFL Fans Association found 79 per cent supported a ban on promotions at stadiums. A survey also found 76 per cent fans would support a ban on gambling advertising on television and radio. We appreciate that gambling can be a personal choice, but the extent of gambling advertising is pervasive and it is toxic and it is ruining lives. When we allow this harm we all lose, and we will continue to lose until something is done. I ask for the house’s support for the instruction motion and for our amendments.
Returning to the bill as a whole, we acknowledge the potential of the bill to increase state revenue and reduce the preferential treatment of the Victorian gambling industry, so we will support it in that context, but in so doing we urge caution and encourage meaningful gambling harm reduction.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Bev McArthur):
I have now considered the amendments circulated by Ms Payne, and in my view – I am reliably informed – these amendments are not within the scope of the bill. Therefore an instruction motion pursuant to standing order 14.11 is required. I remind the house that the instruction to committee is a procedural motion. I call on Ms Payne to move her instruction motion.
That it be an instruction to the committee that they have power to consider new clauses to amend the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 to prohibit gambling advertising at sporting grounds.
Jaclyn SYMES (Attorney-General):
I thank Ms Payne for the intention that she has in relation to bringing this topic and her out-of-scope amendment to the chamber today. It will not surprise many people that were here in the previous term that it is not the government’s practice to endorse out-of-scope amendments by way of motion. There are many ways and avenues for members in this chamber to present ideas: through private members bills or through discussions with ministers’ offices about appropriate vessels to hitch amendments to. It is not my intention to draw too much onto the topic. It is an important topic that you raise, but the advice is that they are out of scope and therefore the government does not think it is appropriate to hitch it to this piece of legislation. Therefore we will not be supporting the instruction motion today.
David LIMBRICK (South-Eastern Metropolitan)
The Liberal Democrats will be supporting the instruction motion, regardless of whether we support the amendments themselves, which I do not support. But I am happy to have that debate.
I am just acknowledging the Attorney-General’s comments and obviously understanding that this motion is out of scope. However, harm reduction, particularly around gambling, is an important issue, and I do encourage other members of the chamber to make a contribution in that space.
** Motion agreed to.**
** Clauses 1 to 68 agreed to.**
Rachel PAYNE (16:01):
I move amendment 1 standing in my name:
1. Insert the following New Clauses to follow clause 68 –
‘68A Offence to display betting advertising in certain locations
(1) After section 4.7.1(1)(b) of the Principal Act insert –
“(ba) at a sporting ground; or”.
(2) In section 4.7.1(2) of the Principal Act, in paragraph (b) of the definition of static betting advertising, for “billboards” substitute “billboards, scoreboards”.
Section 4.7.1A(b)(iii) of the Principal Act is repealed.’.
The Liberal Democrats will not be supporting this amendment. We believe that the person that should decide what goes on the scoreboard should be the owner of the scoreboard.
I do want to thank Ms Payne for raising this important issue. It is a serious issue, and we in the government certainly recognise the proliferation of gambling advertising and the fact that it is out of step with community expectations, and we are of the view it contributes to gambling harm. It is important that due consideration be given to the issue of gambling advertising reform. It can be highly complex as it is likely to affect existing sponsorship arrangements and the like.
It would be a good time just to bring to the house’s attention some of the measures that the Victorian government has already taken in relation to ensuring that the community is not exposed to excessive gambling advertising, including banning static betting advertising within 150 metres of a school, on public transport infrastructure and on or above public roads, road reserves and road infrastructure. And we have certainly played a critical role in increasing protections for broadcast and online advertising through the national consumer protection framework for online wagering, including replacing ‘gamble responsibly’ with new evidence-based messages, enacting monthly activity statements so people can keep track of how much they are spending and giving consumers more opportunities to refuse to receive direct marketing.
So, again, Ms Payne, it is an important issue. It is a priority for the government. The minister has certainly spoken at length to colleagues on our side about this issue. I am sure she would be happy to speak further with you about it. But we are not in a position to support your amendment today. Notwithstanding there is further consideration and discussions available for topics such as this, but it is certainly not appropriate to deal with this issue through an amendment to the Gambling Regulation Amendment Bill 2023 when it is out of scope and not in line with what the intent of this bill is designed to do. We believe some further consideration in relation to the specifics of what you are trying to do needs a little bit more discussion.
Katherine COPSEY (Southern Metropolitan Region):
As I stated in my contribution earlier, the Victorian Greens are supportive of the Legalise Cannabis amendment to this bill. We know that the community is extremely frustrated with the saturation of gambling advertising and believe that all steps should be taken to limit the exposure of the community to further gambling advertising.
Evan MULHOLLAND (Northern Metropolitan Region):
I would like to thank Ms Payne for bringing the amendment forward, but the Liberals and Nationals will not be supporting the amendment. In line with what Ms Symes was saying, it is very much out of the scope of the intentions of the bill.
I would note that we do see the issues with gambling advertising and that it is not in line with community standards. I will note that it is the Liberals and Nationals federally that have proposed to ban gambling advertising, which they are responsible for, and I will note that around the country it has been the Liberal Party that has been quite forward leaning on these issues, but the Liberals and Nationals will not be supporting this amendment.
New clauses negatived.
Clauses 69 to 92 agreed to.
Reported to house without amendment.