Fair trading (ticket scalping) bill

Mr DULUK (Waite) (16:11):

I also rise to make a contribution on the Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2018. Once again, it is good to be in the house speaking on an issue where the government is delivering on its election promises. In the lead-up to the election, one of the items of policy that we said we would introduce in our first 100 days was of course this bill. It goes on the back of some of the other bills we have been talking about this week in relation to consumer protection, which is very important.

As I said, this is an election commitment to strengthen protections for consumers against ticket scalpers. I am sure almost everyone in this chamber has been subject at some time to a ticket scalper either unknowingly or absolutely voluntarily. In my case, when I wanted to go to the Ashes in 2005 in the United Kingdom, I was very fortunate to get tickets through a ballot for the Edgbaston test match, which was the test match where Ricky Ponting won the toss on a very dreary, wet day and elected to bowl.

In the warm-up for that match, Glenn McGrath rolled his ankle, so Australia went into the second test of the series without him. I think Michael Vaughan made a brilliant century on that opening day at Edgbaston. That was also the test match that we know Australia lost by three runs on the last day. There was that scene where Freddie Flintoff was shaking the hand of Brett Lee. It was one of those great sporting moments, but I digress. After Edgbaston, we went to Manchester. I

was doing my 2005 post-uni trip. I did not have any tickets for the Manchester test match, and I was

very keen to—

Ms Luethen interjecting:

Mr DULUK: Exactly. The member for King obviously loves her cricket like I do. We rolled up to Manchester without any tickets, and that was probably the first time I had an experience with ticket scalpers. As someone who loves cricket, I obliged and have no doubt that I paid more than 110 per cent of the face value of the tickets. Being my luck, day one was almost a washout, as it inevitably is in Manchester, so that was a lot to pay, but we went back for days two and three and probably had the same bloke scalping tickets outside the gates at Old Trafford.

It was a most enjoyable test match. Day four was washed out again, and the game ended up being a draw. Australia, of course, then went on to lose the final test at The Oval, and we lost the Ashes in that series in 2005. Almost every member of the English team received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for their efforts in regaining the Ashes for England. That was my first experience of price scalping. I thought, 'This is very unjust.' If only the grounds in the United Kingdom had greater capacity—

Mr Mullighan: You would have got us home in that test.

Mr DULUK: I also could have made a duck.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You could have had an OBE, member for Waite.

Mr DULUK: I could have had an OBE, sir. Of course, when price scalping gets out of control, it is punters, fans and families who inevitably miss out to corporate greed. I think that any government that can do its best to protect the consumer for the greater good of the enjoyment of the many in terms of sporting events is very exciting. Some of my friends faced the issue of ticket scalping at the 2017 AFL Grand Final. I think many of my friends who paid exorbitant prices wish there was a refund policy on ticket scalping.

The Hon. T.J. Whetstone: Wrong result.

Mr DULUK: It was the wrong result. They are some of the issues that mums and dads in the street, the general public, face when there is price gouging of this type. The new Marshall Liberal government is looking to fix up an area where the previous government failed, in particular the former responsible minister for this legislation, the member for Mawson. He effectively created a bit of a toothless tiger in what was then the Major Events Act 2013. With our bill, we hope that events such as the Big Bash, with the fantastically popular Strikers, and the Showdown can be protected under this legislation.

The current law only applies to the rare occasion when a major event has been formally declared and, even then, there has been no serious attempt to enforce that law, as I said previously. So this measure is pretty important. The prevalence of ticket scalping denies fair access to tickets for members of the public who love sporting events and live entertainment. The South Australian public, in my view, deserve more effective protection in this practice.

That is why this bill seeks to modernise ticket-scalping legislation to reflect the present day reality of how people purchase tickets, such as, obviously, online. Going back to the Crows making the grand final last year, there was a division between some members of the public who are not tech-savvy who had to line up at Ticketek, BASS or Ticketmaster, competing for tickets at the same time as they could be purchased by the online mechanism.

I think the last thing we ever want to do, especially in terms of sporting events, is see lifelong dedicated members who go week in, week out—whether it be Crows, Port, Central District Football Club or whatever their sport is—be denied the opportunity to watch the teams they love on the most important days in the sporting calendars. Whether it is the Ashes, cricket, football, concerts or whatever the occasion, we want the South Australian public to be able to enjoy it live just like they do on any other week of the year.

This bill forms part of a series of amendments to the Fair Trading Act designed to increase consumer rights and protections. As I said, another major issue, apart from the increased price, is that the tickets sold on viagogo are not always legitimate. For the WA Ed Sheeran concerts, 173 of the 194 tickets found to be fake were sold by viagogo. Of course, there is an obligation, no doubt, of buyer beware. As a buyer, if you are going on these sites, a fair degree of public caution is always required, but I suppose it is for us as legislators to ensure that we make sure that individuals are responsible for their own actions.

If they are prepared to go on these type of sites to purchase these tickets, there is a bit of buyer beware and there is no point complaining too much after you go down that path, but at the same time, as I have said, we have an obligation to ensure that mums and dads in the street from suburbia, from my electorate in Blackwood or coming down from Berri to Adelaide to go to Ed Sheeran, have just the same right, or the same opportunity, as anybody else to go to a concert.

For the first 2017 Showdown between the Crows and the Power, scalpers had swooped on the tickets and were looking to profit by up to 300 per cent on the face value of these tickets. I assume that was a Crows game and I assume that we won. In August 2017, the former government bowed to pressure and reclassified Adelaide and Port Adelaide football finals as major events, but this, I remember, was quite hotly debated and only came after our shadow at the time, the member for Chaffey, urged this to happen. He was out there protecting the interests of sports fans in Adelaide.

At the time, the then sports minister, and now member for Mawson, downplayed the problem of scalping, suggesting it was not as serious as was being reported. There are a few quotes in relation to that. I suppose what we need to address, in terms of the current act that we are looking to amend, is the definition of scalping and current enforcement, which is poor. Of course, it is always difficult to enforce things, especially within the federation and where ticketholders might be purchasing tickets from an interstate jurisdiction.

What are we doing? Under the Major Events Act, the government needs to declare an event as a major event for ticket-scalping provisions to operate. We will repeal section 9 of the Major Events Act and amend the Fair Trading Act so that the laws apply to any event in South Australia that is subject to resale restrictions. What else are we doing? We are going to prohibit the advertising or hosting of any event where tickets are selling for over 110 per cent of the ticket price, in addition to capping the total resale price to 110 per cent of the total acquisition price, requiring that any resale advertisement includes specific details, such as the original cost and seating arrangement. I think that is something that is really important about the 'buyer beware' aspect.

If we can ensure, in terms of tickets that are being sold to South Australians—that is, from people who are reselling tickets—that the buyers know what the original face value of that ticket was and what they are receiving, because the last thing you want to do is to rock up to the last Saturday in September at the MCG and realise that you have paid $1,000 or $100 for a non-viewing standing spot in the southern stand at the MCG. If your team loses, maybe you are not too fussed by half time, but when you originally get there and you say, 'Gee, I forked out a lot of dough for this non-seating, non-viewing spot at the MCG,' it certainly is a bit of a price to pay. So ensuring that consumers have all the facts in front of them is very important.

What else are we doing under these changes? We will outlaw software, such as ticket bots, which contravenes the terms and conditions of websites that sell tickets, and we will be increasing the number of compliance officers for enforcement of minor breaches. Offences will also be introduced to enable quick and effective enforcement of minor breaches without having to pursue costly court action. This will also act as an effective deterrent to others.

In terms of some of the penalties, for body corporates the maximum penalty under proposed section 37H of the act is $100,000, and for a natural person $20,000, and there is provision for on the-spot expiation fees of $550. For failure to comply with the ticketing resale advertising provisions under proposed section 37I(1) it is the same thing: for a body corporate, a $100,000 penalty, and a penalty of $20,000 for an individual, but of course there is an on-the-spot expiation fee of $550 to ensure that a quick deterrent can be put to those who are seeking to contravene this important legislation.

The government recognises that legitimate circumstances do exist in which a person may want to resell their tickets and that therefore there should be a secondary market. For example, you might actually buy grand final tickets and then realise that your team did not make the grand final, such as the Port Adelaide Football Club. You might be a big Port supporter but then you realise they did not make the finals, so you want to resell your grand final tickets. That is completely fair enough.

It is completely understandable that someone would want to do that. You might be a Collingwood supporter and they win one or two games in a row and you think, 'Oh, they're going to win the finals. I'm going to book prelim tickets,' and then you realise that they don't make the prelim at all. They don't make the finals again. In fact, I think the only supporters who are protected by this legislation are probably Carlton supporters because they will not be back in the finals at this rate.

I think it is important that, in a case of changed circumstances such as sickness and family reasons, people who have purchased tickets in good faith to attend an event have an opportunity to resell those tickets should they not be able to make it, because that interaction is within the normal intercourse of purchasing and selling, which is obviously completely fine and to be encouraged, and that is what commerce is about.

In terms of consumer rights, there has been strong consultation with the Tourism Commission of South Australia in drafting this bill, and I understand that it is quite supportive of these changes. I believe this bill is largely modelled on legislation that passed the New South Wales parliament earlier this year. So, from a South Australian jurisdictional point of view, there is an opportunity to create uniformity within the federation.

In the time that I have left, I would like to say that this bill is part of a suite of measures around consumer protection, which we have been debating this week. It is important that it also backs onto this parliament and South Australia as a jurisdiction, changing and creating legislation that reflects the changing use by consumers, especially in regard to the interface with new technologies. We saw that last week with the passing of Carly's Law through the parliament. We beefed up the criminal intent penalties for individuals who purport to be not who they are via the use of the internet. From the consumer protection point of view, we are looking to do the same.