The Coalition understands that gambling is a major problem for some Australians. For many others, it is a recreational activity that they enjoy responsibly within personal limits that they set for themselves.
We recognise that gambling is an entertainment industry that employs over 150,000 people across Australia.
The challenge for governments is balancing the legitimate right of adult Australians to gamble responsibly with the establishment of appropriate protections and support for the small number of people for whom gambling can have tragic personal and financial consequences. It is critical that policy to address problem gambling is well thought through, practical, will work and is done with the support of industry and state and territory governments who remain largely responsible for gambling matters.
The Coalition’s approach to problem gambling is about addressing the social, economic and policy challenges of gambling reform. The Gillard Government and its mandatory pre-commitment scheme is about responding to the politics of minority government. The Coalition is not persuaded mandatory pre-commitment will address problem gambling. It is also a scheme that will have significant flow-on impacts on employment and on local communities.
The Policy Discussion Paper on Gambling Reform presents a number of policy options on which we seek community and industry comment.
These options include:
- A national voluntary pre-commitment programme
- A new training requirement for persons working in the gambling industry based on the 'Responsible Service of Alcohol' model to educate a broad range of staff to identify problem gamblers, detect the warning signs of excessive gambling and provide ways to help address and prevent it
- More and better targeted counselling and support services
- A nationally consistent ‘self-exclusion’ programme, including consideration of extending self-exclusion programmes to third parties, such as immediate family members
- Prohibiting betting firms offering credit to gamblers
- Prohibiting the promotion of live odds during the live broadcast of a sports event
- Possible extensions to the protection regime regarding online gambling established by the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
In order to progress the development of the policy, the Coalition has established a Working Group that will consult industry, state and territory governments and experts to investigate policy options that effectively address problem gambling.
The Working Group will be chaired by the Shadow Minister for Families, Housing and Human Services, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP and include the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP (Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband), Senator Marise Payne (Shadow Minister for COAG), the Hon Bob Baldwin MP (Shadow Minister for Tourism), Mr Steven Ciobo MP, Senator Chris Back, Mr Josh Frydenberg MP (Coalition members of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform), and Mr Alan Tudge MP.
The Coalition encourages the community, industry and interested parties to participate in the Working Group process.
Written submissions are invited by 31 January 2012 and the Working Group will consult extensively with stakeholders throughout December and January. The Working Group is expected to report back to the Federal Leader of the Opposition by the end of February 2012.