Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2017

Mr WINGARD (Mitchell) (10:33): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Fair Trading Act 1987. Read a first time. 

Mr WINGARD (Mitchell) (10:33): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I rise today to introduce the Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill, a bill that will protect families, event organisers and music and sport enthusiasts against the scourge on society that ticket scalpers have become. This legislation is long overdue and the government have truly dropped the ball on this issue. They have failed to hear the complaints of thousands of South Australians who are well and truly sick and tired of being ripped off by ticket-scalping bots, as they have come to be known.

They are sick of spending hundreds of dollars on inflated ticket processes and prices, and they are sick of being turned away from events because they have been sold, or they have been afraid of being sold, fake tickets online. This is a real concern for a lot of people.

Technology is now involved with this ticket-scalping process, and I mentioned the ticket bots. Ticket scalping is changing from what we perhaps knew back in our day, a long time ago, when a ticket scalper was pictured as someone standing outside a stadium or a concert, opening up their jacket and offering to sell you a couple of tickets and cash would exchange hands. That may still occur, but they are very much in the minority now. What happens now is that these ticket bots and this growth in technology have a very big impact on what is going on here.

What we are seeing is that organisations are setting up ticket bots, which have a very big impact on what we are doing. They swoop in and scoop up a big lot of tickets. People who are going on to purchase them—regular, everyday people in the community, much like myself and my family, who would go online to buy a ticket—are unable to purchase the tickets because the organisations that run the ticket bots have swooped in and got them all. They then sell them through an online platform at an overinflated price.

Scalping has been a problem along the way. In fact, Ed Sheeran and Adele, two big rock stars, recently teamed up to try to combat the scourge of scalping. We know that tickets for the AFL, cricket and any big sporting events can be in the firing line for scalpers and the organisations that run these ticket bots. If this piece of legislation is passed, it could help end this practice before summer. We hope that both sides of this house can come together to make this happen. We think it will be good for South Australians who want to go to events and not pay overinflated prices.

This bill makes it an offence to advertise a ticket for resale at a price that is more than the original supply cost of the ticket plus 10 per cent. It provides a substantial maximum penalty for breaches of the antiscalping laws: a $22,000 fine for an individual or a $100,000 fine for body corporates. These penalties will apply to both the advertising of tickets for resale and the actual resale of tickets above original acquisition costs. It will also be an offence to engage in prohibited conduct in relation to the use of a ticketing website. As I said, that is where this practice really has grown.

No longer is it someone standing outside an event just offering a few tickets for sale as a cash exchange. This is now big business, where ticket bots set up by organisations swoop in and bypass the security of the original seller, grab big numbers of tickets and resell them online at an excessive price for events that are in high demand. It prohibits people who want to go to these events, including South Australian families, from getting these tickets at a fair and reasonable price. As I mentioned before, a lot of big artists are very aware of this and do not want their fans to have this inflicted upon them. That is why we are bringing this bill forward.

The bill also addresses the ticket-scalping software responsible for purchasing large numbers of tickets as soon as they become available and the advertising of these tickets for resale at inflated prices, as I have just mentioned. It will also prevent bots from cheating the system by purchasing more tickets than ticketing sites allow. The majority of ticketing sites have disclaimers, allowing people to know how many tickets they can purchase at once to prevent this. However, due to the cleverness of these ticket bot operators, they circumvent the software and they swoop in and grab hundreds of tickets.

Often, online sales will be limited to perhaps four tickets per purchase but, as I said, these ticket bots circumvent that. So, when you and I go online and try to purchase tickets to an event or a concert, we can only get four, yet they end up scooping up hundreds and hundreds. Another aspect of the bill is the ability for the minister to declare that a specified event organiser must give public notice of the total number of tickets that are to be made available by authorised sellers for general public sale. This is just to give ticket purchasers a perspective of how many tickets are available for this event so that when hundreds go online it will be identified that this practice has taken place.

Fans should know how many tickets are available for an event, which is why the minister will have the powers to enable public disclosure of ticket numbers. These changes are based on amendments made to the New South Wales Fair Trading Act, which passed the parliament in New South Wales and was assented to on 24 October 2017. The New South Wales Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean MP, described the changes as:

…going a long way towards protecting genuine fans trying to purchase tickets to sporting events or music concerts.

The major sporting codes have also been very supportive of this New South Wales legislation, which is why we have followed suit. The AFL, Cricket Australia, the SACA and rugby league have all indicated that the New South Wales model is the way to go to stop the scourge of scalping, which is what we want to do here for the South Australian people. The Hon. Tammy Franks in the other place has raised the issue. We have had a number of conversations about the actions that need to be taken and we think this is a very positive step forward.

Combating ticket scalpers and protecting families is a priority for the opposition. We know that South Australians have to battle some of the highest electricity prices in the world, excessive water prices and high fees and charges here in South Australia. We know that this state Labor government will do all it can to dip its hands into the pockets of South Australians at every turn. They have increased the emergency services levy, taking money from South Australian families and businesses. In fact, the $306 million that they have most recently taken from the people of South Australia will go back into the pockets of South Australians under Marshall Liberal government. We believe very firmly in this. We believe very firmly in not taking, but making sure people have this money in their pocket to spend in our economy.

SA Labor has also tried to take money out of our pockets, of course, we know, through the car park tax, which we did defeat, and then recently there was the SA state bank tax, which we fought. Eventually, the government realised they were just wrong and the Premier and Treasurer walked away from this yesterday.

Ms DIGANCE: Point of order: relevance to the bill that has been introduced.

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Just sit down for minute. We are going to listen to the member very closely. Continue.

Mr WINGARD: The member for Elder asks the relevance. The relevance is the money that we want to put back in the pockets of South Australians. That is what we want to do and this will again—

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order on my left!

Mr WINGARD: —prevent scalpers taking money from people and selling tickets at exorbitant prices, like the Labor Party has done taking money from people as far as the heavy taxes that we have talked about. I was talking about the state bank tax that takes money out of the pockets of South Australians specifically because the state bank tax that the Labor government wanted to implement was a tax on South Australians—not on the people of New South Wales, not on Victorians, not on Western Australians, not on Northern Territorians—

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order on my right!

Mr WINGARD: —it was a tax on South Australians. South Australian people were going to have to pay that tax—no other state, just South Australia. That point needs to be made clear. That is why here, with this piece of legislation, we are benefiting South Australians. That is what we on this side of the chamber are all about. It is about the cost of living. South Australians are doing it tough, and we want to do everything we can to make sure—

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sit down. I am going to ask members to observe the standing orders, which we have and which the house tries to enforce to be fair to all the members when speaking. I would like to ask members to respect the member for Mitchell while he is on his feet introducing his bill, and then you can all have a turn if you want to stand up later. Member for Mitchell.

Mr WINGARD: As I was saying, we want to make sure that there is more money in the pockets of South Australian families and businesses. That is the way we are going to grow this economy. If we can get businesses to have more money in their pockets, they will go out and grow their businesses, employ more people and that will provide jobs for South Australians. That is how it is going to work.

Any cost of living measure that we can implement that can be better for South Australians is a good thing. That is what this bill will do. This bill will prevent scalping. It will stop people having to pay exorbitant prices for tickets to big events in South Australia. We want to do everything we can to discourage this practice. The Labor government on the other side have had this raised with them and they have sat on their hands and failed to do anything. On this side of the chamber, from opposition, we are moving this bill to help with this situation, to help with the excessive cost of living that people are feeling in South Australia.

Again, I mentioned the heavy fees, charges and levies that this state Labor government keeps imposing on people. I was talking about the state bank tax, which again, specifically from the state Labor government, was earmarked for South Australians and South Australians alone. This was not a tax that was going to influence New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and all the other states. This was just another impost on the people of South Australia—families and businesses—and that is what is our choking our state. We need to find every way we can do it. This is a great piece of legislation that will help do that at a small level, but every piece counts.

We need to prevent people from having to pay exorbitant prices by introducing a smart piece of legislation, using smart technologies to make sure that we catch out the people who are swooping in. I mentioned the ticket bot situation where people are coming in, scooping up big tickets and then selling them online at exorbitant prices. It is not so much about the people standing outside events selling tickets at a price for cash that we picture ticket scalping to be—we want to crack down on that too—but the real issue comes with these ticket bots and these organisations that are coming in, using technology to get a whole heap of tickets and then onselling them online, forcing people to go to these websites and pay exorbitant prices. That is not what it should be about.

We know that South Australian families are missing out. They are missing out on going to the Big Bash and they are missing out on going to concerts. As I mentioned, performers such as Adele and Ed Sheeran also agree that ticket scalping is a scourge. We want to make sure that, when these events do come to South Australia, South Australians can afford to go and can access tickets at a fair and reasonable price. That is what we are about: it is about the cost of living.

Unfortunately, those on the other side have missed the vote on this. They do not understand what people are feeling in regard to what is going on out there. The question is whether those on the other side of the house even care about what South Australians are feeling and experiencing out there. That is what we want to do; that is our intention on this side of the house. This bill is a great example of how we can do that, and we want to make sure that we are using smart measures to help people out in South Australia.

It has been going on for a while, and we know that there has been a call for those on the other side of the house to do something, but the minister has sat on his hands and has not acted. Over the last four years that I have been in this place, nothing has been done. It is beholden on us to move this piece of legislation—similar legislation has been passed in New South Wales and it has been well received there by all the sporting codes and the entertainment industry—to make sure that we can prevent this from happening. It is really impacting right across the board.

Concerts are very big here in South Australia, and sporting events—the Big Bash is one—and, when there is a hot ticket in town, organisations are coming in, swooping in and getting a lot of tickets. In fact, they are working the system as well to actually drive people to their websites to purchase tickets. That leaves people quite sceptical, and quite scared as well, that they are going to pay exorbitant fees and charges for the tickets and well over and above the face value of the ticket.

There is also the concern that they might get a bogus ticket, a ticket that will not be accepted, and that they will get to the gate or the arena, hand over their ticket and will not be allowed in. That is a real fear for a lot of South Australians. It is a very fair and real point. This legislation will help in that area; it will make people feel more confident. They will be able to buy tickets at the fair and reasonable advertised price and these companies will not be able to exploit South Australians as they have done in the past.

On this side of the house we want to do all we can, as I said, to help South Australians, to make sure that these ticket prices stay at a fair and reasonable price and to make sure that South Australian families get the opportunity to go to these events when they come to town. We know it is hard to get big events here at times, but when we do we want to make sure that South Australians have the opportunity to go to these big events. As I said, it is a smart measure. Sometimes it just needs some clever thinking and some smart play, as opposed to just trying to throw money at a solution and getting a solution in that way.

We need to look at the outcomes when we move these sorts of pieces of legislation or any legislation in this house. We need to ask ourselves: what are the outcomes we are trying to achieve here? As I have made it very clear here today, the outcomes that we are trying to achieve are to make sure that South Australians are paying a fair and reasonable price to go to events and that companies are not exploiting South Australians and forcing them to pay higher prices by scalping the tickets online.

That is why today I am proud to introduce this private member's bill to address the concerns of the South Australian public. People are sick and tired of being ripped off by ticket bots that force sports and concert fans to pay outrageously inflated prices. Equally, I am here to move this bill today to support the people who are sick and tired of the inaction of this state Labor government on the scalping issue.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.R. Kenyon.

Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login