Senator MOORE (Queensland) (17:59): I move:
That the Senate take note of the document.
The report of the Department of Communications and the Arts on the prohibition of advertisements of interactive gambling services is required under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. This document is produced annually as a result of the legislation which says there must be a report presented to parliament that details the number and nature of any contraventions in the preceding 12 months and any action taken by the minister or Commonwealth agency in response to each contravention.
This report points out that in the previous 12 months five complaints were received. While none of those complaints moved further than the original investigation, the process under section 61 FE of the act is one of the processes currently in place to look at the issues of interactive gambling. This has been debated and discussed in this place for several years. In fact, in the last parliament it was part of my responsibilities, and the ongoing discussion of how we understand what is going on in our community around interactive gambling is very important to me.
In discussions I have had across the community -including businesses which were involved in the industry-I have found that we still have a long way to go before we fully understand exactly how the industry operates and how that community is impacted by interactive gambling. We know that in 2015 a review was done on the impact of illegal offshore wagering, which was called the O'Farrell review. It made recommendations about the need to clarify the law on offshore gambling, which includes interactive gambling; the need to put more focus on the Australian Consumer and Media Authority; the need to establish a national consumer protection framework to look at the prohibition of lines of credit, a self-exclusion register, voluntary precommitment, enhanced staff training and enhanced research; and the need to look at establishing a register of unlicensed and illegal interactive gambling services. All of these issues became clear in the review; and this report stems from ongoing concerns many years ago about this industry. The report is one way for us to see whether efforts are made to engage with advertising of interactive gambling services which intrude on the Australian community.
The complaints received came from individuals and organisations. The first three were not investigated further by the department not because there was no complaint but because the process was already under investigation at the time of the receipt of the complaint. So, by the time the official complaint was made, a process had already been instigated to ensure an investigation. That indicates that there is material being imported into Australia and provided to consumers which may breach the current laws-not the ones which may be introduced in the future. It is very important that when this report is presented to parliament that it is considered and understood and any questions arising from anyone in the community or in the parliament are taken seriously by the organisation. That is the only way that we can get a clear understanding of the many allegations of overseas companies that provide access to gambling options which can cause significant damage to individuals and, as was indicated in the 2015 review of interactive gambling, a significant impact on our economy.
The amounts of money that we are talking about are substantial. Australians are amongst the biggest gamblers in the world, spending $1245 per capita in 2014. As I did not spend a cent, it means that many other Australians are spending considerably more. I commend the report on the operation of prohibition on interactive gambling advertisements. I know it will not be a bestseller, but I do think it reminds us that there are processes in place and that there needs to be more work in this space. That is why the government put the 2015 review in place; that is why we continue to ask questions about the issue. When we do receive these reports, we should take note of them in this place.
Question agreed to.