House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Constituency Statements

Nicotine Vaping Products, Gambling Advertising

10:53 am

Photo of Allegra SpenderAllegra Spender (Wentworth, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I want to address two issues of great concern to my community and where this government and the previous government haven't shown the courage and political will to do what's right. The first is the tobacco industry's aggressive marketing of vaping products to children. In my electorate of Wentworth, I was appalled to see a tobacconist set up shop four doors down from my old high school in Edgecliff. In shops like these, vapes are marketed in bright colours and in flavours like bubblegum and banana milkshake, and are stacked on shelves alongside lollies and chocolates. Parents in my community are outraged, and they have the right to be.

Sadly, this is not a story unique to Wentworth. Across New South Wales, one-third of 14- to 17-year-olds have used vaping products. More than half of them have used a product they knew contained nicotine. It is clear the current regulations are not fit for purpose. So the government must show courage and take the urgent action needed to end the tobacco industry's shameless and insidious marketing of vaping products to children, as well as address the completely unregulated flow of vaping products into our communities and into our borders that is driving the take-up of these vapes by our young people.

The other issue I would like to address is gambling. I received an email from a man I'll call Tim, and it was quite a heartbreaking email. He was a successful member of the community, a businessperson and a family man. He described in his email how he had lost it all because of a gambling addiction—an addiction that was fed by some of the most rapacious, immoral elements of our society. After a heart attacks, seizures and, in his own words, repeated awful behaviour, Tim is now on the long road to recovery. His is a success story, but these stories are rare. They happen in every single part of this country, including electorates like mine which are wealthier than most and including those with the most vulnerable people, who have the least amount of money to lose.

We need reform, and we need to focus on prevention rather than cure. Gambling advertising is at the heart of this. There is an unholy combination of saturation advertising and ubiquitous gambling apps which makes it impossible for some people to resist the urge to bet. We need to ban gambling advertising, as we've with tobacco. We need to ban gambling donations, to remove the influence of these businesses on regulatory decisions. We need to tax those gambling companies which are registered in the Northern Territory and evade paying taxes.

The community is over this. They are absolutely sick of it. It is time for the government to catch up with the community and take real action.