Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 4 August 2016.)
Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 11:43 ): It is my pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Stuart to speak very briefly on the Statutes Amendment (Budget 2016) Bill. While there is an enormous amount of material that I could go to in this place with regard to this bill, I am going to contain my remarks to one issue, and that is the place of gambling consumption tax that has been brought into the budget by the government. The reason I do this is not because I think that gambling needs any support, particularly, but because it is just another example of how this government is a handbrake upon our state’s economy.
I say again that I have no desire to sing the praises of the gambling industry per se, but I do want to highlight that this is another industry that the government is penalising through its budget. It penalises many others unfairly. When it penalises this industry and others it disadvantages South Australia and South Australians. I will read an excerpt from a letter that has been sent to me:
This unfair Punters’ Tax, that specifically targets South Australians, will make online wagering in South Australia more expensive than anywhere in the world and ultimately mean South Australian recreational punters bear the brunt of the tax through worse odds and less markets. The Punters’ Tax will also significantly harm our local racing industry and potentially push punters like me to use unregulated, offshore betting sites that pay no Australian taxes whatsoever and have no interest in the integrity of Australian racing and sport.
The State Government should never stand in the way of my legitimate interests and leisure pursuits, nor treat punters like a cash cow. This tax is completely contrary to this. Targeting South Australian consumers who bet online is the thin edge of the wedge. Should I be paying more for my music online because I live here too?
That is the thrust of the public’s view with regard to this tax. It disadvantages our state even further. For the benefit of the house, I will give a bit of background with regard to how this tax would actually be implemented. Technology enables tracking of a customer’s name, address, IP address and payment method to inhibit possible fraud and money laundering. The source of funds and the destination of funds can be identified. A customer’s betting history is readily available and can be used to identify any potential problem gambling issues and any unusual or suspicious betting activity.
I support without any doubt the need to ensure that we have no fraud in these industries, and I wholeheartedly support the need to identify and support anybody who might have a gambling problem. While I have no doubt that it is interested in those things, what the government is more interested in is the $9.2 million per year of new revenue that it will bring in. The government is clearly targeting these betting agencies. As has been quite clearly stated in the quote that I read out, this will actually push some participants in the industry to other offshore offerings outside of the ones that the government can control, so those desired outcomes of reducing fraud and supporting problem gambling will not be achieved by this and it certainly will inhibit the South Australian economy.
We have the highest taxes in the nation. This is another new measure that the government has introduced on top of the ever increasing emergency services levy, land tax, stamp duty and NRM levies, and under this regime we have the highest unemployment in mainland Australia. We quite often have the highest unemployment in all of Australia, including Tasmania. This is completely unsatisfactory. The fact that the government keeps taxing new parts of our economy year after year is directly contributing to the poor state of the South Australian economy, including the very high unemployment rate that we have here.
Let me put on the record that the industries, particularly the racing industries in South Australia which would be very seriously harmed by this budget measure, are incredibly important employers. I am sorry I cannot remember exactly, but it is something like the fifth or sixth largest employing industry in Australia. At a time when we need to be supporting employment as much as we possibly can, it is absolutely crazy to be thinking up new taxes to tax industries in ways that they have not been taxed in the past which will, without any doubt whatsoever, lead to those industries employing fewer people.
Let me finish by saying that I am not saying for a second that gambling is good. What I am saying is that it is completely unfair for the government to be hunting out every corner of the South Australian economy and applying new taxes in new ways to new industries because that is bad for our economy, and what is bad for our economy is bad for our society, because a healthy economy and a healthy community structure go hand in hand: you cannot have one without the other.