Question Time Response - Online Gambling Ads

Ms Chaney, Member for Curtin: This is a question to the Minister for Communications. Last year a parliamentary inquiry recommended banning online gambling ads. During the year of that inquiry, big gambling companies made political donations of $600,000. You've spent seven months meeting with powerful companies that make money from gambling ads. Today new research was released, again showing the dangers of social media influencers promoting gambling to kids. Will you listen to the community and ban online gambling ads? 

Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland: I thank the member for her very important question, and I acknowledge her longstanding advocacy in this area, as well as that of many other members of this House. Like many Australians, the government is very concerned about the extent of gambling ads and their impacts, which is one of the reasons why we established the House of Representatives inquiry into online gambling and the impacts on those experiencing gambling harms, led by our dear late friend Peta Murphy.

Since receiving the committee's report, we have been consulting with key stakeholders on the committee's recommendations, and there are over 30 of them. My department has met with a broad range of stakeholders including broadcasters, sporting codes and digital platforms, and I have met with a number of harm reduction advocates, public health experts and academics. I am very grateful for their time, their insights, their perspectives and their expertise—particularly, as the member notes, on the impact that online gambling is having on young people, the concerns over the saturation of gambling advertising, the close association that even young children now have between wagering and live sport, and the shame and stigma felt by those experiencing gambling harm.

I can say to the member that there is one underlying principle that is guiding us in our approach here, and that is harm minimisation. We are conducting this in a very thorough way, and I will make three points going to that.

Firstly, we want this response to be comprehensive. It's a broad-ranging report. It goes over a large number of areas that impact not only on the Commonwealth but also on states and territories, where there are already existing laws as well.

Secondly, we want to guard against unintended consequences. We know how important it is to take a comprehensive approach here. Look at the last set of gambling ad restrictions that were put in place by the previous government in 2018. I say to the member that there was actually a 50 per cent increase in the total volume of gambling spots on TV and radio, and there was an 86 per cent increase on regional TV. So we need to ensure that what we are doing is guarding against those perverse outcomes.

Lastly, for the benefit of the member and the House, the Prime Minister is running an orderly cabinet government. It is a collaborative approach that we are taking between a number of ministers, including the Minister for Social Services, me and the Minister for Health and Aged Care, and we are conducting this in a way that ensures that we meet our harm minimisation objectives.

I would also just highlight for the member, who may be interested in some of the other initiatives that are being done at the moment, that there's a very important one that I'd like the member to be aware of: we instigated the last piece of the regime for consumer protection, and that is BetStop, the National Self-Exclusion Register. Since April, there have been just under 16,000 registrations that remain active, and 47 per cent of registrants are 30 years old or younger. I just acknowledge that fact for the member to highlight the broad work we're doing— (Time expired)