Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2018

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (16:44): I rise today to speak on 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 is yet another commitment that the Marshall Liberal government committed to introducing within its first 100 days of government, and I am very proud to be part of a team that has been delivering on its commitments in the first 100 days...

We were very clear, going to the election, on what we are going to deliver for South Australia and we have been ticking boxes daily to uphold those commitments. I know the people of South Australia very much appreciate a government that has indicated what it is going to do and then deliver on those commitments, and that is the government we want to be. I also commend the Attorney, who has moved quickly to introduce this legislation, and hope it will receive support from both sides of parliament.

This legislation is long overdue. The former government truly dropped the ball on this issue. It failed to hear the complaints of thousands of South Australians who are well and truly tired of being ripped off by ticket-scalping bots, who are sick of spending hundreds of dollars on inflated ticket prices and who are sick of being turned away from events because they were sold fake tickets online. That is where this has come from.

This has been a problem for South Australian families, in particular, who want to go to events—concerts, sporting events, whatever it might be—but the ticket bots have come through and swept up all the tickets. They are then sold back online at exorbitant prices, and families invariably miss out because they cannot pay those prices. The Marshall Liberal team tried to tackle this issue from opposition in the previous parliament, and I was proud to introduce a very similar bill during the last session of parliament. I know that the Hon. Tammy Franks in the other place is a keen supporter of protecting consumers and finally putting an end to ticket scalping, and I hope those views are supported in this chamber.

Ticket scalping these days does not occur in front of a stadium, or even around the corner in a shady venue. There are fewer and fewer overcoats and less and less cash changing hands on site. The serious offenders are the online ticket-scalping bots that I mentioned a few moments ago; they buy up hundreds of tickets and try to sell them at inflated prices. For those who are unaware, that is probably the real change in the landscape now.

Technology does some wonderful things in our society. Everyone these days has a smart phone or an iPhone or something like that, and when you do get your tickets you can often just have them on your phone and scan them as you walk through. The technology is absolutely outstanding, but there are signs that people are using the technology to take advantage of others. These ticket bots are one such example of technology not being used for good. These organisations have very intricate computer programs. I am not a computer boffin, that is for sure, but I am told by the computing experts that these programs are set in place and when tickets come online, on sale, they just swoop in and buy copious amounts.

If you or I were to go online, Mr Deputy Speaker, be it on our phone or on the internet, when we get through we can generally purchase only a limited amount, three or four or whatever it might be. If you are going with a group of eight, you have to try to ring through twice or get online twice to try to get tickets together, and it is very hard to do. However these bots bypass that technology, bypass that road map if you like, and swoop through and collect a lot of tickets. They suck up all the tickets and then they go and resell them back online.

Some might say it is an ingenious business model, but it is not a fair business model, and that is the problem we have here. We think South Australians should have a fair opportunity to purchase these tickets as well. It is these bots, these systems, that we want to crack down on, when people get these tickets and go and sell them online at exorbitant prices.

This bill will make it an offence to advertise a sporting or entertainment ticket for resale at a price that is more than 110 per cent of the original supply cost of the ticket; that is, the cost of the ticket plus10 per cent. One of the members on the other side, the member for Florey, raised this with me and said, 'Why are you allowing the extra 10 percent?' which is a very good and valid question.

We know there are fees and charges that go on a ticket when you purchase it, so we do not want to stop anyone who has legitimately purchased a ticket for an event but then cannot go to that event from being able to reclaim their costs. Within that 10 per cent margin, they can reclaim the cost of the fees and charges that go with purchasing a ticket. That is the reason for the extra 10 per cent, which I think everyone that I have spoken to feels is very fair and reasonable.

So if you do purchase a ticket but you cannot go to an event because you are sick or have something else on, such as someone's birthday or whatever it might be, you can still sell your ticket online but at 110 per cent of the original price, with that 10 per cent extra to cover your fees and charges.

The bill also provides for substantial maximum penalties for breaches of the antiscalping laws, including a $20,000 fine for an individual, and a $100,000 fine for a body corporate. These penalties will apply to both the advertisement of tickets for resale and the actual resale of tickets above original acquisition costs. What that means is, if you advertise the tickets online at an exorbitant price, you can be fined. If you are an individual doing it and you are trying to sell off a couple of tickets at an exorbitant price, you can be fined up to $20,000. If it is one of these ticket bot companies that is actually doing it and then putting it online, that company can be fined $100,000. I think that is a significant impost and, we hope, a strong deterrent to stop people doing this because, again, it is a scourge.

I heard that the Minister for Primary Industries, who spoke before me, is a big Adele fan. When Adele comes to town, we want South Australians to be able to go to those concerts. We want South Australian families to be able to purchase the tickets at the price that is advertised and go along to those concerts. When Adele comes to town, or any other concert or event for that matter, they set their ticket prices. Obviously, they make a profit. They are wonderfully talented artists who deserve to make profits out of their skills and talents, so they set their ticket price. It is not for someone else to come along, because they have a good technical system where they can swoop in and purchase a heap of tickets, and profiteer off that. That is not fair, that is not right, and it is not fair on the consumer in South Australia.

That is why we are bringing this law into place, and we know South Australians will very much appreciate us cracking down on this. When these concerts come to town, all South Australians should have the opportunity to go and get the tickets at the price that the artist, in this case, demands for the ticket and not the overinflated price they are forced to pay if they have to go online and some other entity has been able to swoop in, collect tickets and then profiteer off extra demand.

The Minister for Primary Industries also spoke about sporting events, and we know this happens in sporting events. As he pointed out, we do not want this happening for people who are going to the Big Bash, which is a great example. Tickets are $20 or $30 and are designed for families to be able to go to this event and enjoy it together. But, when the surge of popularity comes—if the Strikers make a final or something like that—all of a sudden people who have been going all season can no longer afford to buy tickets. The demand rises and these operators electronically go through and purchase a whole wad of tickets and then go and sell them at an exorbitant profit online, and families miss out, and that is what is disappointing. We do not want to see that happen.

Another important 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 gives a perspective of how many tickets will be out there in the market. Again, I mentioned that when you go online and purchase tickets for a concert or a sporting event, generally you can only buy a limited number, if it were you or me, Mr Deputy Speaker. You could potentially just get enough for your family or a couple of mates, whoever is going to the event.

However, when these bots sweep through and collect all the tickets, no-one knows how many the regular public got and how many were picked up by the bots. Through the event organiser declaring how many tickets are available, the public will then know and it will be all aboveboard. Fans should know how many tickets are available to an event, which is the reason that the minister has put these powers to enable public disclosure on ticket numbers.

This really is a great bill. As we said, we went to the election with a number of election commitments and a lot of them were hinged around cost-of-living issues, and this is just one. It is a small one, but one that is a piece in the puzzle. This bill will enable South Australians not to be gouged by ticket scalpers. Ultimately, it means that money stays in people's pockets. The Minister for Primary Industries spoke about going to a Strikers game, where tickets were advertised online. Tickets that cost $20 or $30 were advertised for $200 or more. Think about that: that is 10 games that someone could go to if they can pay $20 for the ticket as opposed to $200 for one ticket.

That really puts money back into the pockets of South Australians and gives them more cash. They can decide to go to more games or they can decide to spend the money elsewhere. But, if they are being forced to pay $200, they miss out economically. The point raised is that they can take their family. If it is $20 a ticket, you can take your whole family, have a wonderful family night out and watch the game for under the $200 you would otherwise have to pay for the ticket.

At the moment, people are profiteering out of events, concerts and sporting events. I think the member for Lee even mentioned that it could happen at a Frozen concert, which would be terrible—concerts that are put on for families, for parents and grandparents to take their kids—and to be priced out of the market because someone is profiteering in this manner really is not acceptable.

As I have been involved and pushing this barrow for a long time, I am very proud that this is one of our 100-day commitments that we have before the parliament, and I hope that we get support from both sides of the house and that the bill is progressed through so that we can do everything in our power to stop the gouging and the scourge of ticket scalpers in South Australia.

As I mentioned, the government recognises that legitimate circumstances exist where people may want to resell their tickets, and therefore they need a secondary market, so we are not stopping that if people want to sell them online and that sort of thing. Technology is advancing, people can do that and that is fine, but we want to make sure that they are not selling them at that excessive price, profiteering from selling someone else's tickets or making money out from the people putting on the show.

Consumer and Business Services consulted the Tourism Commission in the drafting of this bill, which is fantastic because we wanted to make sure the Tourism Commission had a say in the way we went with this. The bill was modelled largely on legislation passed in New South Wales earlier this year, so it was great to be able to dovetail in with what they have done in New South Wales, and by all accounts they are having success there with the bill. We hope that it does send a strong message to the people out there who are doing this type of thing.

Interestingly, and I have made the point already, I note that when artists put on a concert there are a lot of things to take into account: the staging, the travel, the whole lot, and then the fee for service for their wonderful talents. They do put a price on a ticket with all that taken into account, and they put it out there and the market will decide whether or not people want to go to those concerts.

I refer to Ed Sheeran, who had a concert, I think last year (I did not get to go, but I know that my kids did), and for his concert he put an anti ticket-scalping mechanism in place, so we have an artist who is really singing from our hymn sheet—and he is a good singer, too, and he is singing very well. He sees the same problem I have been identifying here this afternoon, and clearly it happens all round the world. So, given that we have charge of our local jurisdiction, it is really important that we enact this legislation to stop the scourge of ticketed scalping.

Ed Sheeran identified the problem, said that he did not want people doing this and put a few mechanisms in place. Unfortunately, I think that some tickets were reported as still being sold at higher prices, but his point is that he is putting on the concert, that he is performing for the people of the local area—in this case, he was performing for South Australians in our great state—and he wanted to make sure that his fans, and a lot of them were kids who would have saved their pocket money, worked part-time jobs or done extra work around the house or whatever it might have been, were able to afford to buy their tickets. Families and parents as well might have bought tickets for the whole family.

When the ticket-scalping machine gets going, the price skyrockets, and that just hurts families and turns families off concerts. I know that there are people out there who, when tickets go on sale, if they are all swept up really quickly, do not even think about going to the concert. They think, 'It is just too hard, I can't get online, I won't be able to get tickets,' and they almost give up before they start. Now people will have the opportunity because the gouging will not be able to happen. Also, when tickets get resold, we want to make sure that they are not fake or counterfeit tickets, and we want to make sure that the resold tickets can be used for the event they are sold for.

Having that 110 per cent leeway means that people selling tickets will be far more inclined to be genuine and legitimate ticket resellers, because they are not doing it to turn a massive profit out of their tickets. We think 10 per cent is fair and reasonable and will cover any fees and charges from the purchase of the ticket. Really what we are doing is killing a black market in ticket sales so that people will genuinely know that tickets for sale online are from people legitimately selling tickets for that event.

My kids go to a lot of the festivals around town. They will book a ticket for a festival here or potentially interstate, and then something will come up and they will not be able to go. They will get a better offer from another friend or a boyfriend or a girlfriend will invite them somewhere else, which they will see as a better offer, so they will sell their festival ticket. Again, they can go and resell that, but at that 10 per cent margin so that they can still get their money back. Kids can spend money; if anyone has kids, they know they can spend it and spend it fast. So if they can get their money back for the ticket they have purchased, then that is a benefit.

Again, I commend this bill to the house. It is one we put forward in the last term of parliament and it was disappointing that we could not get more traction to get it through. I think South Australian families will really appreciate this. It will help with the cost of living, the burden that all South Australian families have been feeling. We know we have had the highest electricity prices in the nation, thanks to those on the other side, who left us with that burden as well, and the general cost of day-to-day living keeps pushing through the roof for families.

This is something that we think will make it easier for families to get access to tickets, concerts and sporting events. We want to keep families here in South Australia and we want to keep people here in our great state. We know young people are leaving at a rate of knots and we want to stop that, to circumvent that and start bringing them back. If you want to have a family, there is no better place in the world to have a family than right here in South Australia. Part of that is a quality of life and quality things around you, like a house and a car and a job, and wanting your family to be able to go to events like this. Having a bill like this in place is beneficial to families on a very big scale.

I commend this bill to the house because removing the scourge of ticket scalpers is something that we have talked about for a long time in this place and to have the action here now is a very big bonus for all South Australians. I again thank the Attorney for moving this bill and I look forward to its swift passage through this house and through the upper house as well. I know that South Australians will be appreciative when we can implement this bill.

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