Senate debates

Monday, 22 September 2014

Bills

Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014; In Committee

5:49 pm

Photo of Nick XenophonNick Xenophon (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

It is always a good time to movement amendments. I move the amendment on sheet 7567:

(1) Schedule 2, page 11 (line 7), omit the heading.

(2) Schedule 2, items 17 to 23, page 11 (line 8) to page 12 (line 16), to be opposed.

This deals with the discussion that was held shortly before question time. This amendment will ensure that what is proposed by the government, that it merely becomes desirable for ACMA to look at certain matters, is taken out of the bill, that we leave the status quo so there is a greater sense of urgency and a greater need for an investigation of interactive gambling by ACMA.

My concern relates to the Interactive Gambling Act that was introduced back in 2001 by the coalition. And I remember it well—I was a state member of parliament and lobbied furiously for the act back then. The government's legislation will make the act weaker because ACMA has a key regulatory role to ensure that the Interactive Gambling Act is being complied with. This omnibus bill, under the pretext of ensuring less red tape, will actually reduce consumer protection. It will actually make it less likely that there will be an investigation into breaches of the Interactive Gambling Act by ACMA because ACMA's discretion and latitude will be so broad that there will be no reasonable prospect, I think, of these investigations taking place to the same degree that they have taken place in the past. I am concerned that having a general discretion to investigate will actually weaken consumer protections. This is a retrograde move. It is a move that goes against what the coalition was intending to do back in 2001 and I oppose it. My amendment will ensure that this broader discretion, this weakening of the legislation, does not take place. That is, in essence, what I am proposing to do with this amendment. If my colleagues in this chamber think this is a minor problem, then I urge them to think otherwise. More and more Australians are falling prey to unscrupulous operators all over the world who target Australians with online gambling problems.

An effective enforcement regime relies on ACMA investigating and working in conjunction with the Federal Police. I know that from the constituents I have dealt with who have been deeply affected by this. If this Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014 is passed without my amendments, it will send a green light to the shonks in Gibraltar and other parts of the world. It will tell them that they are less likely to be detected and less likely to be affected by a police investigation. This is because the key regulatory body, ACMA—that first port of call—will simply be less likely to be investigating such matters.

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