Transcripts

3AW - Drive - Interview with Tom Elliott

28-April-2016

Topics: Government’s response to Illegal Offshore Wagering Review, welfare, border protection

E&OE…

TOM ELLIOTT:

As I mentioned, our next guest joining me live in the studio is the Federal Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge. Good afternoon.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

G'day Tom.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Now, sports betting. Firstly, can we just discuss in-play betting? When I go to the footy, and I don't bet on anything actually, as a result I don't bet on the football, but I do see that people will bet on who's going to be the first to kick a goal after half time, what are the odds for your team to win if they're behind at the end of the second quarter. Is that now going to be banned?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

It is already illegal to do that on your mobile phone, but technically not illegal to do it on your telephone, to ring up and place in-play betting.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

So wait a minute, so you could ring someone up in a call centre and place a bet …

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Correct.

TOM ELLIOTT:

… but you can't do it online?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

You can't do it on your phone. Now, part of the rationale for this – and this is 10 year old law – is that on your mobile phone you can basically have high repetitive bets because you can place a bet every 30 seconds throughout the game, and so therefore the chances of problem gambling become significantly higher.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Right. Okay, so- but if you want to do an in-play bet, if you're a Collingwood supporter and you say I think Travis Cloke is about to break his duck and score a goal- or score the first goal after half time, can you ring up the call centre of a betting agency?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

You can ring up presently and place that bet if the AFL has authorised for that bet also to be made.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

But you can't use the app on your phone?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

But you can't use the app on your phone to be able to make that bet.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

But I thought the whole problem with in-play betting was that it might corrupt sport. I mean, how is it any less corrupting of sport if you do it over the phone rather than via an app?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Listen, there's two issues here really. One is the ability to corrupt the sport, particularly with what's called micro-bets. For example, is someone going to bowl a no-ball on the next ball? That has the potential to be corrupted.

And the second thing though is in relation to problem gambling. Now, in the online environment the rates of problem gambling are three times higher than they are more generally.  The concern the experts have is that with your mobile phone, if you're constantly making bets throughout the game it starts to be very repetitive, almost like a poker machine.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Okay, but poker machines are legal; in-play sports betting via a telephone call is legal. I mean, are you looking to change that, or does the AFL have too much power in all this?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

No, we're not- so we're not changing it. All we're saying, there's been a lot of pressure from the online gambling companies, as you could imagine, to completely liberalise the market and to expand the online in-play offerings, and we're saying today that we don't have any intention of doing that.

There's enough gambling offerings on the market already today, enough problems already created from gambling without the need to be able to bet on every single moment, on every single game, in every sport.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

So just so we're absolutely clear, if you're at home on a laptop or using your iPad, or even at the game using your smartphone, you cannot do in-play betting but you can still ring up and do it via a call centre?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

That's presently what the law says.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

And that's how you intend to keep it?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

So we're keeping the law as it is. Now, in some respects if you have to call up and speak to a person, at least it slows you down with your betting and you have a chance, if you are continually betting and continually making losses, for someone to be able to intervene and provide you advice if you're getting yourself into trouble.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

The impression I get from the AFL particularly is that it is fundamentally conflicted when it comes to online gambling. On one hand they say we want to preserve the dignity of our sport, on the other hand there's so much money in online gambling.

I mean, there's ads all over the place. What's the impression you get of the AFL's attitude towards this?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

The AFL, their formal position is that they would like to see in-play betting on their mobile phone device.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

So they want it? They want more betting options?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

They want more betting options. Now, they make two arguments.  Well, their main argument is from a sports integrity perspective, but of course they'll be financial beneficiaries from this as well because you would see a lot more money being gambled, and consequently they'd be getting some of the money from that.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

But how can they put together we want better integrity for football, and at the same time we want more in-play betting options for football? To me those things seem at odds.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well that is their argument, it's not for me to press their argument. What in part they say to me though is …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

But are they really arguing that?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

They are really arguing that.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

So by allowing people to bet more often online on more things during a football match that will improve the integrity of football?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

That is their argument.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

What?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Now, in part what they're saying, their argument is that if people are searching for those options presently they'll search for an illegal, offshore, unlicensed provider and place that in-play bet on a Filipino company, for example.

Now, ideally that bet would be placed in Australia because then they would have visibility over their bet. That's what they argue; I'm not saying that that's what I believe, but that's what they argue.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Well that sounds like having your cake and eating it. All right, now let's move on to these illegal online, offshore companies, betting companies, possibly in the Philippines and elsewhere. I know you'd like to stamp that out; what realistically can you do about it? I mean, trying to regulate the internet is extraordinarily difficult.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

No, it is a very significant problem though for Australia, and other countries have grappled with this. And there's anywhere between $65 million and $400 million per annum which is being spent on these illegal unlicensed offshore gambling companies, and ideally that money would be spent in Australia.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Well surely the mere fact that you've got such a wide range, it's either [indistinct] you don't know?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well we just, we basically don't know.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

See, it's hard to regulate something where you don't know.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well we just haven't had the research to be honest to be able to do this, and one of the things which we are going to do is put more money into research to be able to do that.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Yeah, but if someone – if Joe Blow wants to get on the internet late at night and go to, I don't know, a poker site or whatever that comes out of Vanuatu, for example, I mean, do you care?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

We are concerned if people are wagering on an illegal offshore site.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Why?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well, some of these sites are connected to crime gangs in Asia, we don't want money going into them, but additionally there's three other reasons.

I mean, firstly the consumer protections are not as great if you're gambling on one of these illegal offshore sites, and your legal protections are not there either. More broadly, from an economic perspective we'd obviously like the money to be staying in Australia rather than going into an illegal offshore site …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Ah, so it's okay to gamble, just ideally gamble here.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

No, no, all I'm saying is if people are going to gamble, ideally they'd gamble on licensed Australian sites.

And then thirdly, the sports integrity argument is that if people are going to gamble, ideally they're doing it on a licensed site because then at least there is some visibility over the bets which are being made, and so if you see irregular bets on events then you can investigate that and to see what has occurred.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

All right, if you'd like to speak to Alan Tudge, the Minister for Human Services, get on the phone – you know, the old fashioned way – 96900693, 131332.        

But okay, let's say you discover that it's not $65 million to $400 million, let's say $1 billion from Australians a year is being given to illegal offshore online gambling portals. I mean, what can you honestly do about it?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Yeah, so there's a few very practical things that we can do and that we're proposing to do.

The first is to actually clarify the law to make it very clear that it is illegal for an offshore, unlicensed provider to accept a bet from an Australian resident, and to empower the regulator to issue notices and to enforce that. That's the first thing.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

But seriously Mr Tudge, I mean these companies already know they're illegal. That's why they …

MINISTER TUDGE:          

No, no, no they don't. They don't, and in part some of the feedback which we've got is that our law is currently ambiguous as to whether that is the case or not.

And so we have been told – and other jurisdictions have done this – if you clarify the law and they're aware that it's illegal then many of the ones in responsible jurisdictions will consequently act.

Now that occurs in the same way, by the way, as say a Sportsbet in Australia won't accept a bet from a French national because France has such laws which says you have to be a French licensed gambling provider to accept …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

And the French can't be trusted.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

…to accept a bet from a French national. So that alone will have an impact, but that won't …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

You won't get your money.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

… completely solve the problem. In addition to this …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

All right, but let's say you remove the ambiguity from the laws …

MINISTER TUDGE:          

So we remove the ambiguity …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

… and so the handful of overseas, reputable …

MINISTER TUDGE:          

There's a lot of them though. They might be based in the UK, in Europe, in Gibraltar, in the United States and elsewhere.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

They withdraw from the Australian market, or they say if you've got an Australian credit card we won't take your bet, that's fine. But it's – if they're removed from the market there would be a whole lot of other ones that just leap into it. What do you do about them?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well, so for the gambling companies in responsible jurisdictions that will have an impact. For those gambling companies that still flout the Australian law, we're proposing a series of other disruptive mechanisms.

Now, that includes, for example, having a new offence for targeted Australian-based affiliates, principals and agents who are facilitating money going to illegal offshore gambling sites.

It includes placing the directors of the recalcitrant companies on our movement alert list, so if they try to come to Australia they'll be disrupted. It includes …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

But would you punish the Australians who actually do the illegal gambling?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

No, we're not proposing to do that.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Why not?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well in part, sometimes you don't know as an Australian because these sites will be placed up – they might even put the Australian flag on it, and so it gives you every impression about being an Australian site, but you don't know where the money is going and you won't have the same protections as you would if they were a licensed provider.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Calls for Alan Tudge, the Minister for Human Services, in a moment.             

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Dennis, go ahead.

CALLER DENNIS:             

G'day Tom, G'day Minister.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

G'day.

CALLER DENNIS:             

Just further to the sports betting and trying to reduce the problem betting, are you aware with live betting most agencies have a minimum of a $20 bet? Me personally, I do a bit of betting just for a bit of fun, and I like to just put little $5 bets on, just to see what happens. I'm not trying to make money out of it.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

What do you bet on, Dennis? On the football?

CALLER DENNIS:             

I mix it. Mainly footy, because that's what we know and breathe here in Melbourne, but I throw in some other sports that are going on at the moment. It doesn't really matter on the sport. They all pretty much cover the same sort of rules, but …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Well Mr Tudge, what do you think? I mean over the phone, Dennis is saying that it's a $20 minimum. So what's worse? Someone doing $1 bets online every minute, or ringing up – as is allowed – and having to do 20 bucks each time?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

The experts say to us that it's the repetitive bets which really cause the problem gambling. So if you have to take the time to ring someone up and speak over the phone and discuss it, then at least it slows down your betting, versus if it's on your phone here and you're literally betting on whatever the next event is going to be as you're watching the cricket or watching the footy. Then it starts to be like a poker machine on your phone.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Could I ask: would not we be better served – I don't know if you're a libertarian or not, but there are people in your party, in the Liberal Party who are libertarians. Just put up billboards everywhere that says look, if you gamble, you'll probably lose, and if you keep gambling a lot, you'll lose a lot. End of story. And then just let people do what they want to do.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Yeah, I don't – listen, I don't think that would work. I mean, it's a bit like sort of saying in relation to drugs, let people- let drugs flow freely, and everybody knows if you take drugs, you'll get yourself into trouble …

TOM ELLIOTT:   

No. No, it's not, because drugs –  drugs are illegal. Drugs are illegal, but gambling is legal.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Yeah, well, that's right, and listen – Australians love to gamble. We're the biggest gamblers in the world, and most people do so responsibly. They enjoy it. They put some money on the game or on the races, and that's absolutely fine.

But there is also a very significant proportion of people who get themselves into very serious trouble, and so we need to have some reasonable regulations in place to try to prevent that problem gambling while at the same time not interfering with everybody's ability to just have a bit of fun and have a punt.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Jody, what do you think?

CALLER JODY:   

I don't think you will ever be able to regulate against problem gamblers. I was married to a problem gambler. His issue was pokies, but there is nothing that will stop them if they're addicted to it, whether it's sport, horses, pokies, casino. They will find a way. It's an addiction. All I hope is at the football they can stop putting the odds up. I think they've stopped that, haven't they, at the football? So kids don't ask you what's that about. But you will never stop problem gamblers. They will find a way.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

All right, thank you Jody. I tend to agree. Mr Tudge, I spoke to a drug rehabilitation expert last week. In fact, he was a former drug addict, and he runs a private clinic now, here in Melbourne, and he says the only thing to do with a problem drug addict is complete abstinence, and it takes at least a year or two to get off drugs.

So if you assumed it was the same with a problem gambler, do you think trying to restrict how often they can gamble is really going to make much difference?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well, the idea is to stop people becoming problem gamblers in the first place, and that's the real concern with the online in-play betting on your mobile phone, is it's more likely to cause problems because it is so repetitive. So that's the first point.

Second point is that we're also trying to put in place stronger consumer protections, such as for example a national self-exclusion register. So that means that if you know you're starting to have some issues and you say with one online gambling site that hey, I want to exclude myself for a week, that will apply across all of the online gambling sites as well, so you're not tempted to jump onto your other app in a moment of weakness.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Maybe you just go round to their house and take their smartphone off them, and lock it in a safe at your office. Problem solved.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

No, but this is not like that, Tom. This is actually I think, in this regard, it's empowering the individual, so if they know they're starting to show some signs of having a problem or their spouse does or a family member does, they can self-exclude themselves on one site and it will carry across to other sites.

It might only be for a week while they cool down, but that will be important for them to get on top of their problems. 

TOM ELLIOTT:   

A couple of other issues, I had a chat with the head of tax services at KPMG Melbourne last hour and they've done a little suggestion for you and your colleagues in the federal Parliament.

They reckon that the federal budget could be improved by a) increasing the dole from 250 to 300 bucks a week, they say it'll allow people to live better lives and present themselves better and hopefully get a job.

And he said b) the Federal Government should stop wasting money on health services that unnecessarily prolong peoples' lives when they're near death – you know, palliative care – and he says just let them die if that's what they want. What do you think about these ideas?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Two big issues there Tom. In relation to the dole, I mean certainly it is not a lot of money, and if you're just living on the dole as a single individual you haven't got much to get by on a weekly basis.

Now, as soon as you're married and you've got kids then the payments are larger. For example, a couple of adults with three kids, you might be getting in the vicinity of $43,000 a year in cash. Now, what's that, 850 bucks a week in cash to pay for your bills and pay for everything.

Still, I'm not sort of saying that's a lot of money, but it still is a reasonable amount to pay your bills and to get by.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

So leave the dole where it is?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

So in relation to the second question, well I don't agree with that. I think that we have a very good healthcare system, and often you do need that healthcare system while you're older; that's when you do start to get more frail and need to go to hospitals and get additional assistance.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

We're going to run out of time, but I'll just say there's a lot of people out there, and I'm one of them, who reckon if you've got terminal cancer and you're in pain, and you say I don't want to go on any longer, all right, I personally don't see the point in prolonging a life like that.

Very quickly, you've got 850-odd people on Manus Island, the Papua New Guinean Government has said they can't stay there. We had some suggestions here yesterday: send them to Tasmania, send them to Norfolk Island, send them to South Australia. What are you going to do with them?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

The Immigration Minister is working with the Papua New Guinean Government as we speak in relation to that, but we have made very clear that they won't be coming to Australia, and that's for very good policy reasons.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Okay, so not in Papua New Guinea, not in Australia. Any third country ideas?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Well we're working through that to see what we can do with them, but the core principle of our offshore processing is that you can't come to Australia by jumping onto an illegal boat, because if we do that then you just start to open the floodgates and you lure further people to our shores, many of whom will drown at sea.

TOM ELLIOTT:

Okay, but therefore you are looking at and potentially talking to third countries – not PNG, not Australia, but somewhere else?

MINISTER TUDGE:          

The Immigration Minister is looking after this. There's a dialogue going on right now with the Papua New Guinean Government to work out exactly what steps it will take.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Alan Tudge, Minister for Human Services, thank you for your time.

MINISTER TUDGE:          

Thanks Tom.

TOM ELLIOTT:   

Alan Tudge there. I must say, I think we've learned something: that the AFL, while it professes to be concerned about problem gambling, certainly doesn't want the rivers of gold, the rivers of cash to dry up anytime soon.


(ENDS)


Search this site:
Contact Alan

Electorate Office
420 Burwood Highway
Level 1, Suite 4
Wantirna South VIC 3152

Phone: (03) 9887 3890
Fax: (03) 9887 3893

Email Alan
Community Survey

Facebook iconYou Tube IconRSS Icon

Aston Community Awards 2017
The Aston Community Awards celebrate local Knox volunteers and organisations that make our community great.



Help Stamp Out Ice in Knox

Use the buttons below to see the Aston Ice Report and to add your name to the Knox Drug Rehab Petition.
E-Newsletter
Sign up to receive my e-newsletter

Alan's Latest Tweet