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FOR – Bills — Broadcasting Services Amendment (Ban on Gambling Advertisements During Live Sport) Bill 2023; Second Reading

Paul Scarr

I was making a point to people in the gallery yesterday when I began my speech on the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Ban on Gambling Advertisements During Live Sport) Bill 2023, but they've left! It was that this is a proposed incremental change which, I believe, will improve the regulatory environment with respect to advertising and gambling. We can have a debate in terms of who did what and when, and what people should do in the future et cetera—maybe the coalition should have done that and maybe Labor should do this. But the point is that this is a positive, incremental change moving in the right direction, and it could be done now. It's a very simple bill; it could be passed now and introduced now. I'm hopeful that the comments I make during this speech may well convince my good friend Senator Bilyk, who is speaking after me, that there's merit in the argument that there should be some incremental change and that change could occur now.

We do accept that people like to gamble. People like to bet, that is the fact of the matter. We also accept that there needs to be regulation of those activities. I think that many of us across the chamber are concerned. Hopefully, this is something I say that Senator Bilyk would agree with: it causes me unease when I drive past hotels and pubs during the week and see pokies are open until 4 am. We have to ask ourselves how that can be in the best interest of anyone—gambling at four in the morning? And we can gamble on the internet now, 24/27.

The particular concern that this bill seeks to address is the conflation of gambling with major sporting events. When I was growing up I watched State of Origin as a young boy with my family—and yesterday was State of Origin day, with another absolutely fantastic win by the maroons! I stayed up way past my bedtime at 8.30, because that's how late the game went, but there were none of these gambling advertisements and there wasn't this conflation of a major sporting event with gambling—or 'gaming', which is the synonym now used. So there was a demarcation between gambling and major sporting events such as State of Origin, the Ashes and so many other major sporting events. Horseracing was always in a different category.

But, in terms of the football, cricket, tennis and Aussie Rules, there was a demarcation between the sporting event and gambling, and that demarcation has broken down. The concern is that the 10-year-olds who were watching State of Origin last night will see gambling as being part of enjoying a sporting event. Not only do you watch the sporting event but you can have a punt at the same time. And you can bet on so many different things—first try scorer, highest point scorer, the ultimate victor and the margin et cetera. You can see how people who have a proclivity towards being susceptible to the addictive nature of gambling can fall into that trap, especially as young people. That's the primary concern that we have. I'm sure that that primary concern is shared by everyone across the chamber.

This is an incremental change which, from our perspective, could improve things. The specific proposal is that gambling advertising be banned from one hour before the start of a live sporting event until one hour after. So that's a reasonably modest proposal. That means footy is family time—family time is footy. So we all gather around the TV and watch the match, and there are no gambling advertisements in the course of that match. The ban would apply to TV and radio broadcasts. Existing exemptions for gambling advertising during horse, harness and greyhound racing would be retained. Exemptions for advertisements for lotto, Keno and similar government run lotteries are also retained, where the evidence is that they are less likely to contribute to that gambling addiction.

The ban would be achieved through minor amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. The changes to the act would require industry codes of practice to be updated to incorporate the ban, and the bill allows for a transition period for the change. So these are small, incremental improvements, and I genuinely ask those opposite: why would you stand in the way of these incremental improvements? No doubt, when the government finishes its review or the parliamentary reviews are completed, there could be larger reform moving through the system, but I can't see any reason why such a positive, incremental improvement—taking it at face value and accepting that it's proposed in good faith—wouldn't be accepted. What's the harm of accepting it in good faith and sending a message that everyone across this chamber cares about this issue?

I say to those opposite: I understand the arguments which are being put, but I think we can rise above those arguments and simply focus on the issue before us. This is a very positive, incremental change, and I think those on the other side of the chamber should in good faith accept it at face value, and, if there are proposed amendments, put the proposed amendments forward. But I can't see why such a positive, incremental change such as this would not be accepted. On that basis, I commend the bill to the Senate.

Catryna Bilyk

I too rise to speak on the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Ban on Gambling Advertisements During Live Sport) Bill 2023. As Senator Scarr said, this bill places a ban on gambling advertisements during television and radio broadcasting and live streaming of sporting events, and, as Senator Scarr also said, the ban would commence one hour before the scheduled start of the match and end one hour after its conclusion. But the government will not be supporting this bill.

Our position on this bill should not be misconstrued as a lack of will to seriously address the harms of online gambling. In fact, between us and the opposition, we are the only party that is serious about addressing these harms, and the bill we are debating today is further evidence of this. It's nothing more than a thought bubble, and, if I were Senator Henderson, I might be a bit embarrassed to table it. Of course, if the opposition were truly serious about reducing gambling harm, they wouldn't have had this sudden interest. Let's not forget that those opposite, who were in government for almost a decade, were the architects of the current arrangements. But now, all of a sudden, the Leader of the Opposition and the coalition he leads have taken an interest in the harms presented by gambling advertising and are seeking to change these arrangements. So forgive me for being cynical if I don't take this sudden interest seriously, after years of inaction by those opposite.

Paul Scarr

Rise above it!

Catryna Bilyk

Deputy President, could you please call that side to order?

Andrew McLachlan

They are being a little bit rowdy. Please restrain yourselves.

Catryna Bilyk

Thank you, Deputy President. I sat very quietly through all of Senator Scarr's speech.

Andrew McLachlan

Please proceed.

Long debate text truncated.


Date and time: 10:01 AM on 2023-06-22
Senator Pocock's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 30
Total number of "no" votes: 33
Total number of abstentions: 13
Related bill: Broadcasting Services Amendment (Ban on Gambling Advertisements During Live Sport) Bill 2023

Adapted from information made available by