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Motion: Establishing an Online Gambling Committee

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer):

That this council—

That the council concur with the resolution of the House of Assembly contained in message No. 45 for the appointment of a joint committee on online gambling; that this council be represented on the joint committee by three members, of whom two shall form the quorum necessary to be present at all sittings of the committee; and that the members of the joint committee to represent the Legislative Council be the Hon. Ms Bonaros, the Hon. Ms Franks and the mover.


The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I had not intended to speak today, but the Greens rise to support the creation of a joint committee on online gambling. I reflect that the Greens, SA-Best and Advance SA were all vehemently opposed to the legislation to allow note acceptors in poker machines in our state, which saw what I would call a dirty deal done behind the scenes to allow that to happen, with some concessions and some handwringing, particularly from the Labor Party, that they had this safeguard of an online gambling committee that they had managed to wrest out of the largesse of the government.

Facial recognition technology was also put up in that piece of legislation by the Labor Party as somehow a protecting mechanism against the scourge of predatory gambling, particularly with poker machines, and yet we know—as the Greens raised in that debate and now have a private member's bill on—that facial recognition technology is actually used by the gambling industry to groom gamblers, not to prevent harm.

The Hon. Tung Ngo looks at me with interest. It is used by the gambling industry to groom gamblers. Facial recognition technology is put on its showcases and described as, 'Bring back the old Vegas,' when you can know that punter's favourite drink, when you can give them a ticket at the bar to be taken great care of in the old-fashioned way. Their name will come up and the staff in the venue will know exactly who they are, exactly what they like to drink, exactly what they like to eat and get the best experience to groom them for further gambling.

Facial recognition technology was in no way a panacea or a prevention of gambling harm as the Labor Party has reported, as they wrung their hands and said that it was terribly hard for them but they came to this conclusion that they had to support the legislation because apparently the Labor Party had got some safeguards. The other safeguard was an inquiry into online gambling. Indeed, here we are in the upper house and the voices in opposition to the bill are quite willing to step up where the Labor Party's opposition has been found wanting yet again when it comes to the scourge of predatory gambling.

It is quite extraordinary that it has been 15 months since these deals were made, or perhaps more, because we know they were made behind closed doors and possibly well before the legislation came before this place. However, it is 15 months since the legislation passed this place and here we are, we are still waiting for the online gambling joint house committee to even meet for a first time, to even get the approval of this place.

It has sat on the Notice Paper, languishing, and those crossbenchers, including the Hon. Connie Bonaros and myself, have been scratching our heads and wondering what on earth was going on. We have seen revealed today what has been going on, which is that the Labor Party, with their handwringing and their facial recognition technology panacea that actually promotes gambling harm rather than prevents it, had never actually done a proper deal to stop online gambling harm either. They did not want the crossbenchers involved whatsoever and they sure as hell did not want the Greens or SA-Best on this committee.

The Greens are happy to help populate this committee. We will step up in leadership against the scourge of gambling if the Labor Party is unable to populate this committee. I am certainly indicating to the chamber that I am more than happy to serve on this committee to ensure that there is a balance between the two houses, given the Labor Party has been found wanting yet again on this matter.

I note also that the regulations under the new legislation, through the work of the commissioner and the Attorney-General, have sought to prevent facial recognition being used to groom gamblers, but they are only regulations and I certainly would not trust those regulations in the hands of a Labor government.

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