Statement on Sports Betting Ads

Sports fans around the country have voiced their outrage at the proliferation of gambling advertising in our sports broadcast. I have been one of the MPs who have been pushing for reform. I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement to introduce new rules that restrict sports bet advertising. It is a big step in the right direction, which sends a clear message to the broadcasters, the sporting codes and corporate bookmakers. From the beginning of the game to the end, promoting live odds is canned. The TV bookies have been kicked out of the stadium. The banners and logos and other promotions will no longer flash across our screens. Some of these measures go further than my private member's bill which was focused on advertising during children's viewing times. This is welcome. It may well not be the last word on the matter. Bookmakers and broadcasters must make these changes happen immediately or parliament will step in. Of course if we want to see sport on free-to-air TV, we have to have some advertising. But corporate bookies, broadcasters and professional codes are now on notice. Gambling and professional sport can coexist but we cannot have a model professional sport or free-to-air broadcasting that is dependent on gambling revenue for its viability. The greatest threat is not from government but from viewers. If broadcasters fill the remaining slots during the broadcast with gambling ads, they will see sports fans walking away from their TV sets. If that happens, other advertisers will wonder why they are paying good money for empty chairs seats.

More awareness and funding needed for childhood brain cancers

The very rare Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma accounts for around five to 10 out of every 100 brain tumours in children. Penny's interest in funding came after the tragic passing of a young Australian boy named Talin Hawkins from a diffuse pontine glioma. Talin's plight drew a huge amount of interest through social media and really increased awareness of the disease and has inspired activists like Penny to fight for a better deal for kids who are affected by this rare and usually incurable cancer.          So Penny came to me with a request. She asked that I raise this matter in parliament to increase awareness and ensure the government is injecting  as much funding as we can into the research of childhood brain cancers and diffuse pontine gliomas. Because they are very difficult to treat, the outcome for pontine gliomas is very poor. After diagnosis,  the survival time is on average only nine to 12 months. To try and improve the outcome, doctors have used higher amounts of radiation and even chemotherapy to kill the tumour cells—but we need to achieve better results. In an exciting breakthrough last year, oncologists from the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia grew Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma cells in the lab and found a drug that was able to kill them in a test tube. Following this, I wrote to the health minister to ask what we can do to increase funding in the area of childhood brain cancers and make sure this lifesaving research is able to continue. I am happy to report that, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian government has made significant investments in the research of childhood brain cancers. During the period of 2000 to 2011, the NHMRC has provided over $33 million for research into brain, eye and nervous system cancers of which $19.9 million specifically targets childhood brain cancer. In 2012, the NHMRC also awarded additional grants as to brain cancer to the tune of $7.1 million. This is a commitment we are determined to see progress as a government and I have been advised by the minister that funding will continue at this level. I have relayed this good news to Penny and hope to keep working with her and other activists to progress the cause and raise awareness and funds in the Illawarra.

Support for the Australian Jobs Bill 2013

I am pleased to be speaking on a bill about Australian jobs. The Labor government supports the Australian Jobs Bill 2013. It is good Labor legislation. I follow the member for Hughes who opposes the bill, because that is what the coalition does—they say no. In his 15-minute dissertation on all things except the matter before the House, we never heard one skerrick on policy about what the coalition would do if they were to sit on this side of the House and deal with the challenges that are currently confronting the manufacturing industry in this country. There is a very simple reason for that: they do not have a policy except to say no. I am pleased to speak about this bill today because it demonstrates the importance that Labor attaches to the manufacturing industry.    As members of parliament—and I see the member for Cunningham in the chamber as well—the member for Cunningham and I represent the areas of Illawarra, and in my case the Southern Highlands as well, and the manufacturing industry is very important. Still over one in 10 jobs in our electorates comes from manufacturing. Manufacturing is critically important. From anywhere in the Illawarra you can see the Port Kembla steelworks, an iconic part of the Illawarra landscape. The blast furnace and smoke stacks are an ever-present part on our horizon. Manufacturing is critical as an employer but also critical in terms of generating wealth and economic opportunities within the region. Continue reading

Appropriation Bills 1 & 2 (2013-14): Growing local economy and jobs

This has been a difficult budget to frame with uncertainty in the world economy, where Eurozone countries have significant debt and double digit unemployment in some countries, with unemployment in some countries well above 15 per cent, with youth unemployment close to a quarter of some youth populations and the unemployment and uncertain outlook in the United States. When we look to some of our major trading partners where we have traditionally looked for growth opportunities, certainly there is significant uncertainty there as well. So there is a difficult global environment and a difficult domestic environment in which to frame a budget, with a drop-off in projected revenues of over $16 billion over the budget period. Within this very difficult environment to frame a budget and to ensure that we keep the Australian economy moving forward, I think the Treasurer has to be commended for the job that he has done. Australia stands alone in the developed world, with record low unemployment with a five in front of it, interest rates at a historic low and low inflation. The economy still continues to grow, but we know that the growth is both fragile and uneven. There are many areas throughout the nation that are not enjoying the benefits of the boom in the resources sector, particularly in areas that have a higher than average exposure to trade and to the impacts of the record high Australian dollar. Continue reading

We need to change the way we are dealing with Live Export Trade

The way we deal with animals in our care speaks volumes about our values. That is why every parent teaches their children the importance of caring for their pets. It does not always follow that people who are kind to animals extend that affection to their fellow human beings, but it is one insight into our humanity. That is why I have expressed more than a little concern in this place and elsewhere about the treatment of livestock in the live export trade. As custodians of these creatures we have a duty of responsibility. When we apply these values to the subject of live animal export we are found wanting. If ever we were able to turn a blind eye to this issue, the internet extends our gaze and our television can bring it into our lounge rooms on an all-too-frequent basis. In recent times we have been shocked at footage of barbaric treatment of animals in slaughterhouses around the world. We cannot distance ourselves from this horror, as we are critical links in the supply chain that ends in this misery. It is not just the end point of the process because, when we export livestock to another country, we know that it is done for a purpose: the animal will be slaughtered for food for others. I have no quarrel with this. Continue reading

Statement on media reform: Australians deserve right of redress

Over the past 48 hours this House has been joined in a fierce debate over proposals for media reform. The member for Wentworth has been strident in his attacks on these proposed reforms, and his defence of the principles of freedom of speech has been a spectacle to behold. I share his passion for a free, robust and independent media. I also understand the value of a right of reply. On 9 August 2006 the member used parliament to set the record straight on what he claimed to be a misrepresentation by the media. He said in this place: I was misrepresented in a number of media outlets, including AAP, the Telegraph, the Australian and the Financial Review. It was attributed to me that I had said that petrol was not an issue in my electorate or that people were not complaining about petrol in my electorate. He then used parliament to set the record straight. As a parliamentarian, he is able to use the Australian parliament to respond to any allegation of misrepresentation by the media. This is a great privilege. Very few Australians enjoy the same privilege. That is why having an effective system for handling complaints of misrepresentation by the media, such as the Press Council and ACMA, is critical. All Australians have the right to have their complaint of misrepresentation dealt with in a fair and reasonable way, not just parliamentarians. We do not have this at present—hence the media reforms before the parliament.

Call to ban sports betting ads

I like to watch basketball, football and soccer. When I cannot get to a game, I like to watch it at home on television. Generally speaking, when I watch a game at home I like to do it with my family. But what offends me is that I can no longer do this without the incessant promotion of gambling—from the live odds to the game outcome to exotic bets on just about anything that goes on throughout the game, like the next try. I think I am in union with most average football fans when I say: enough is enough. I am not against gambling. Next Sunday I will be attending the local racetrack with a lot of my friends and colleagues. When I do that, I will have a bet. I will probably be the same as the majority of other adults who walk through the gates next Sunday at Kembla Grange: we will be having a punt on the races. It would be a very rare adult who walked through the gates to go to the local racetrack who did not have a bet. But it is very different when we go to the football. It is not yet the case that the majority of people who go to the football have a bet on the outcome of the game. It is not yet part and parcel of the culture of going to the football. It is part and parcel of the culture of going to the races. Continue reading

Matters of Public Importance: Carbon Pricing

Since 1 July last year, 133,500 extra jobs have been created. That is almost 20 each hour. There have been 118,546 new companies registered. That is more than 20 every hour. Company share prices have grown strongly, with the S&P/ASX 200 index up 25 per cent. The economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1 per cent, and Australia has retained one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developed world, at 5.4 per cent. I understand that this is devastating news for those opposite, who hate good economic news. But it is good news for the people in my electorate and it is good news for Australia. I listened with great interest to the member for Aston's contribution to this debate, because the debate has at its centre the policy to reduce carbon emissions. I should say that, if you are going to have a policy to reduce carbon emissions, it is not a bad starting point to actually believe that carbon emissions are having an impact on climate change. Many on that side of the House do not seem to believe that. I actually respect and listen very carefully to the member for Aston's contributions because I learn a lot from him. I particularly learned a lot from him when I read the article that he wrote in the Australian on 27 February 2007. Members sitting alongside the member for Aston might want to listen to what he had to say before he came to this place. He had this to say: Continue reading

Private Member's Motion on last resort compensation for SMSF investors

The collapse of Trio Capital was the largest superannuation fraud in Australian history. Around $176 million of superannuation funds were lost and are unlikely to be recovered. Nearly 6,090 Australians invested in Trio and, through Trio, into a number of managed investment schemes. Two hundred and eighty-five of those investors put their money in Trio through self-managed superannuation funds. Self-managed superannuation funds are the largest single sector of Australia's $1.4 trillion superannuation assets and are the fastest-growing sector. Many of the 285 SMSF investors in Trio are located in the Illawarra and, over the course of the last two years—almost the entire time I have been in this place—the member for Cunningham and I have been meeting with and corresponding with the many men and women who have lost some or all of their life savings as a result of this corporate fraud. That is, 285 personal stories of severe financial shock and the ensuing personal devastation that flows from this. Continue reading

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Amendment Bill

On 12 November last year, the Prime Minister announced the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The announcement did not come out of thin air; it came, in part, as the conclusion of a long-running campaign by victims, by their advocates and by many others within the community to have such a national royal commission held. As result of that, it was welcomed by victims, advocates, MPs and, I must say, even many church organisations. I welcome the establishment of a royal commission. I have believed for some time that this was the appropriate course of action for the Australian government to take. I do not rush quickly to the call for royal commissions. They have great investigative powers which, when combined with the constant scrutiny of the mass media, can alter the course of public opinion—and even personal reputation—well in advance of any findings and recommendations being recorded, and certainly well in advance of any prosecutorial process being concluded or even commenced. I believe that royal commissions should only be used when it is clear that both policing and judicial determination have failed or are inadequate to the task. In relation to the question of institutional responses to child sexual abuse, I believe that this is such a case. Our children have had their trust betrayed. We have heard stories of child abusers being moved from place to place to avoid having their crimes dealt with. We have heard revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil. This royal commission process will, I hope, be a healing process. But I specifically hope that its recommendations will help ensure that it never happens again. Continue reading