Senate debates

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Communications Legislation Amendment (Online Content Services and Other Measures) Bill 2017; In Committee

12:21 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Innovation) Share this | Hansard source

I'm mindful of many young people being here in the chamber with us this morning. Often the gap between what happens in parliament and what happens in people's lives is an enormous one, or it certainly feels like that to many people outside the parliament. I just want to put on the record, particularly while the young people are here, that Labor certainly understands the community's call for safety for young people watching television.

In my contribution yesterday evening I spoke about an ABC news story written by Damian McIver which referred to two high-profile AFL players. One of them was a Geelong defender, Harry Taylor, who spoke about his children. He has three children, and he was concerned about the fact that his eldest children can name a lot of the ads on TV about gambling and online betting. That's a concern to him as a football player. There were other people who spoke out, including another AFL football player, Easton Wood from the Western Bulldogs. He was really concerned that this issue was getting out of control. He's not on his own. Research undertaken by Deakin University—and I am sure the young people in the chamber can bear witness to this—found that over 90 per cent of children can recall having ever seen an ad for sports betting and about three-quarters of children aged eight to 16 can recall the name of at least one sports bet brand. A quarter of the children in the sample were actually able to recall four brands or more, which is very, very concerning. Seventy-five per cent of children in the sample thought that gambling was a normal or common part of sport. Parents were really very concerned about this, and they conveyed that they thought that there was just too much gambling advertising on television.

So Labor understands that Australians don't want children to associate betting and gambling as being a core part of sport. Today we're debating what to do about it. We have to be careful about the legislation that we enact in this place. There are amendments being moved, but the thoughts that Labor have about the issue are that there is industry and community desire for consistency on the restriction of gambling promotions during sport being broadcast live, including on online platforms, and there's a lot of community concern about the level of gambling promotions before, during and after live coverage of sporting events. However, while Labor understand the sentiment behind these amendments, we will not be supporting them, for the following reasons.

Labor regards the approach of government and industry to be a step in the right direction. The broadcast industry and the ACMA have just last week concluded a process of updating codes of practice which involved significant community consultation and consideration by the regulator, including the investment of time and resources by both industry and government. The ACMA has stated that it will closely monitor the operation of additional restrictions in the updated broadcasting codes and after 12 months will consider whether to conduct a formal review of their effectiveness. Labor supports this approach and does not seek to change or disrupt the new arrangements, as proposed by these amendments.

Further, the regulatory policy of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 provides:

… Parliament intends that different levels of regulatory control be applied across the range of … services according to the degree of influence that different types of … services are able to exert in shaping community views in Australia.

… Parliament also intends that … services be regulated in a manner that …

… enables public interest considerations to be addressed in a way that does not impose unnecessary financial and administrative burdens on providers of broadcasting services—

among other things. Labor appreciate that evidence of community attitudes indicates that stronger protections may well be warranted, but we are also cognisant of the regulatory policy. Labor believes that industry should be afforded the time and the flexibility needed to alter business practices and contractual arrangements to address community concerns, which is how the approach that's been adopted may be regarded at this point. Labor does not seek to permit discrete changes to the standard regulatory policy of the Broadcasting Services Act on an issue-by-issue basis. Furthermore, there are more factors than audience size that may go to considering whether a service is more or less influential. Whether a service is freely available or subscription based may also be determinative, for example. Therefore, the amendments may not even achieve any greater consistency between platforms, as intended. For those reasons, we will not be supporting these amendments.


No comments