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Money News with Ross Greenwood 2GB

E & OE

ROSS GREENWOOD:
For those people who like alternative forms of lotto and remember that Lottoland is a big sponsor of this radio network. Do understand that it’s going to come to an end very, very quickly. As early as they say potentially six weeks. And that’s because the Turnbull Government tomorrow will introduce legislation to ban betting on lotteries and keno games. In other words synthetic lotteries and keno games. This is where you’re effectively betting on the outcome of a lottery owned and held by somebody else, which is exactly what Lottoland is. And also you’ve got say for example William Hill has its own version of that as well. Now, today Lottoland put out a statement saying in response to enquiries regarding the Government’s announcement, Lottoland’s chief executive Luke Brill said while we understand the concerns expressed by some newsagents, the proposed legislation is both misguided and unnecessary. The fact that Lottoland does not offer betting opportunities on any Australian lottery, so our offering does not have a direct impact on newsagents. Let’s go to the Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield. Many thanks for your time Mitch.

FIFIELD:
Good to be with you Ross.

GREENWOOD:
Ok, so I hear that from Luke Brill and he says actually a situation right now where Lottoland does not offer betting opportunities on any Australian lottery, so why would have Tatts and newsagents had reason to have had a change such as you’ve announced today?

FIFIELD:
Well the reason why you can’t place bets those sorts of bets today is because I wrote to the Northern Territory gaming minister last year to express concern on behalf of newsagents that there was the capacity to bet on the outcomes of Australian lotteries. The Northern Territory Government responded to my petition. So that was sorted. But it’s still possible to place bets on overseas lotteries and it’s still possible for there to be bets placed on the outcome of Keno, which is of particular concern to pubs and clubs. And I also think that there was a view in the community that this is a form of betting that is a step too far. We’ve responded to that community concern and the concern of pubs and clubs and said that betting on the outcome of lotteries and Keno will be banned.

GREENWOOD:
I notice that Senator Pauline Hanson has been a fierce critic of Lottoland. She’s also said it does not pay tax here in Australia, is that one of the reasons why the Government was moved to make this change?

FIFIELD:
I think some in the State Government had concerns about the revenue implications for them. That we do have lotteries, we do have Keno that pay state taxes. And that goes towards schools and hospitals and roads. And that’s a good thing. But also, I think the community acceptance is that traditional lottery and traditional keno are appropriate ways of having recreational gambling. They do go to support people and you’ve to recognise that lottery tickets are sold through newsagencies and pharmacies. They’re small businesses. Keno, you’ve got in pubs and clubs. We think that this is the right balance to strike between the right of Australians to have a punt, on the one hand, but also ensuring that there are appropriate community safeguards in place.

GREENWOOD:
I guess my point raising Pauline Hanson was the fact that she was one of the stumbling blocks the Government had to get through in the Senate to be able to pass the company tax cuts that the Government is keen to do. I do notice also that just late this evening the Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann has indicated that there will now not be a vote before Parliament rises this Easter as a result of not having the support of enough of the crossbench Senators, one of which is Senator Derryn Hinch. So from that point of view, Pauline Hanson. Tax cuts. Lottoland. Are things that are all linked?

FIFIELD:
One Nation and Pauline Hanson have been very clear for quite some time that this was a form of betting that they had an issue with. But she wasn’t alone, lots of my Liberal and National colleagues also raised this issue

GREENWOOD:
Okay, so the other thing as well, given you’ve got other people such as say for example Nick Xenophon, who are very much anti-gambling, very concerned about the impact of gambling in Australia. You say this was one step too far. Of course still there are going to be plenty of people this weekend who are going to take out their lotto tickets, sit in pubs, play Keno, whatever it might be. So the Government is not really trying to crack down on gambling per se, it’s simply believing that betting on lottery outcomes is a step too far?

FIFIELD:
That’s right. As I said before, in this area you’ve always got to try and strike a balance between the right of people to do want they want to do. To have a punt, to have a drink. And having appropriate community safeguards. And that’s something that we also did when it comes to further restricting gambling advertising during live sport which will come into effect on Good Friday.

GREENWOOD:
Okay, just a quick one for you and that is in regards to the tax cuts, the company tax cuts. The Government’s now admitting it doesn’t have the numbers to actually get a vote in the Senate before Parliament rises in a couple of days’ time. What’s your feeling on this? Do you feel you’ll ultimately get the support for those tax cuts?

FIFIELD:
The Senate is governed by the iron laws of arithmetic. We have 30 Coalition Senators, we need 39 votes to pass legislation. So we need to secure nine of the 11 crossbench. We have had very good and constructive discussions. We’ve made progress with further crossbench Senators indicating support for company tax cuts. But we’ve got some more discussions to do. We need to have time to do that which Mathias has indicated this evening. But we are going to pursue this.

GREENWOOD:
Senator, always good to have you on the program. Senator Mitch Fifield our Communications Minister we appreciate your time.

FIFIELD:
Great to be with you Ross.

[ends]