Gambling

Gambling Reform

In Parliament, Motions

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. C. Bonaros: 

That this council— 

1. Notes that the latest figures from the 34th edition of Australian Gambling Statistics of total gambling expenditure in Australia for 2016-17 show that: 

(a) the nation’s gambling spend was $23.694 billion for 2016-17; 

(b) total sports betting increased to a record high of $1.062 billion, representing a 15.3 per cent increase from the previous year; 

(c) total race betting expenditure in Australia increased from $3.099 billion to $3.313 billion (a 6.9 per cent increase) in 2016-17; and 

(d) $12.136 billion was emptied into poker machines by Australians in 2016-17. 

2. Acknowledges that the 2010 Productivity Commission report into gambling found that around 4 per cent of the adult population plays poker machines at least weekly, and that 15 per cent of these players are ‘problem gamblers’ with their share of total spending on poker machines estimated to be between 40 and 60 per cent. 

3. Acknowledges that according to figures released from the Australian Electoral Commission covering the 2017-18 financial year, the Australian Hotels Association of South Australia donated $324,944.43 to the South Australian Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division), the Federal Liberal Party of Australia, the South Australian Labor Party (SA Branch) and the Australian Conservatives. 

4. Supports the call by the Alliance for Gambling Reform for a complete ban on political donations by licensed gambling operators. 

(Continued from 13 February 2019.) 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:38): I rise to welcome and support this motion that has been put before this place by the Hon. Connie Bonaros of SA-Best. This motion notes the latest figures from the 34th edition of the Australian Gambling Statistics of total gambling expenditure in Australia for 2016-17 year that show that the nation’s gambling spend was $23.694 billion for that year; that total sports betting increased to a record high of $1.062 billion, representing a 15.3 per cent increase from the previous year; total race betting expenditure in Australia increased from $3.099 billion to $3.313 billion, a 6.9 per cent increase in that year; and that $12.136 billion was emptied into poker machines by Australians in that year—some very sorry statistics, and sobering statistics, there. 

The motion further acknowledges that the 2010 Productivity Commission report into gambling found that around 4 per cent of the adult population plays poker machines—and ‘play’ is certainly an insidious word—at least weekly and that 15 per cent of these players are what are known as ‘problem gamblers’, a euphemism if ever you heard one, with their share of the total spending on poker machines estimated to be between 40 and 60 per cent, somewhere around half. 

This motion also, importantly, acknowledges that according to the figures that have been released by the Australian Electoral Commission for the 2017-18 financial year, the Australian Hotels Association of South Australia donated some $324,944.43 to the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the Australian Conservatives. That is a lot of money for very little return—unless there is a return. 

We strongly support this motion and, importantly, while the rest of that was all fact, we note the key here: paragraph 4, which supports the call of the Alliance for Gambling Reform for a complete ban on political donations from licensed gambling operators. We have seen in this place time and again a state government addicted to gambling revenue, addicted to animal cruelty that is supported through that gambling industry, addicted to these donations to help run their political campaigns that buy their favour and leave us as a state with an extraordinary position where we have a bill not yet before this place—so it is not unparliamentary yet for me to comment upon it—where apparently Labor and Liberal have gone off and done a deal to allow note acceptors in poker machines and a range of other measures that are quite extraordinary. 

Certainly the Hon. Rob Lucas, as the Leader of the Government in this place, and so far on record the leadership of the Labor Party have said there is no conscience vote on this particular bill. It is quite extraordinary, when previously Liberal Party MLCs in this place have indicated that on gambling legislation they have a conscience vote. The Labor Party once upon a time did have a conscience vote, but now, quite extraordinarily, when it comes to gambling, they no longer have a conscience. 

It is extraordinary days indeed when we see a racing industry able to lobby to have part of the point of consumption tax which is now being levied upon them returned to them, because somehow they need it for the prize money and to keep growing their industry, an industry which is based upon the racing of animals for a profit, for people to take a punt on or profiteer from. Yet time and again across those industries we see cruelty against these animals exposed—time and time again. 

And we see little delineation in those industries between the integrity sections of those industries and the profiteering sections of those industries, putting those animals in danger and, worse still, putting punters into poverty. Whether it is poker machines or the racing industry, industries designed to part people with their money when we know that many of those people have a problem, an addiction, and cannot afford to be parted with that money are indeed extraordinary things to be propping up with party votes in this place. 

All parties should start refusing to take donations from these cruel and calculating and clever industries that have worked out that if they put a few pennies in the pockets of some politicians as they campaign for an election the payoff will come when pieces of legislation pass this place with, lo and behold, bipartisan old party support. 

I have to say, I do not know if Shit Adelaide has ever been quoted in this place, but I have noted that they have been commenting on the failure of the sex work law reform bill today. They have asked the question: how on earth has it come to this, where we have bipartisan support from Labor and Liberal on poker machines having note acceptors, but they cannot actually support sex workers’ rights? 

I welcome this motion today, and I look forward to working with SA-Best and the Hon. John Darley in Advance SA to eradicate gambling donations from our political system. I urge Labor and Liberal to consider where this leaves our political debates. We know that it takes courage and that courage is not something that political parties necessarily embrace. We saw what happened to the Tasmanian Labor Party when they said that they would ban poker machines from their pubs and clubs: the gambling industry came in in force and that Labor Party policy has now been abandoned. 

We ask the Labor Party in particular, but also all political parties and all members in this place: do not abandon the very people who most need our support. Do not abandon, for a few pennies from gambling income at election time, the very people that this place should actually be protecting. Ensure that these industries do not unscrupulously profit from South Australians, do not treat animals with cruelty and do not get away with corruption, fraud and profiteering. With those few words, I wholeheartedly support the motion.