Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (16:28): I am very pleased to introduce the Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2018. We committed to taking a number of strong measures to increase consumer protection in relation to ticket scalping in South Australia. It was an election commitment and, once again, the Marshall government is delivering what it promised. Further, we committed to introducing this legislation within the first 100 days, and this is what we are doing. Along with amendments made to the same act to allow for extended gift card expiry dates, this important reform, for once, puts consumers first.

The bill repeals section 9 of the Major Events Act 2013 and makes amendments to the Fair Trading Act 1987 to increase consumer protection in relation to ticket scalping in South Australia. The Fair Trading Act 1987 is administered by Consumer and Business Services and is the appropriate legislation to amend to address the current limitations associated with existing ticket-scalping provisions.

The former government put their head in the sand with ticket scalping, with the former minister for tourism in this place stating that the 'hype' of ticket scalping does not actually 'live up to the reality' and that just because tickets were offered online at high prices it did not mean they actually needed to be bought. Such rhetoric diminishes the rights of South Australians to purchase a ticket at its true price and prevent scamming.

While I am on this topic, let us also take a moment to reflect upon the Major Events Act, which was brought into effect in 2014, which actually failed to declare any events as major, completely denying the public any protection from ticket scalpers. It was even revealed in 2017 that not one person has been prosecuted for selling tickets at inflated prices under the dodgy law since its assent. This was an absolute failure of the former government and the then minister for tourism in refusing to declare huge public events as major to be captured and protected under the act.

Ticket scalping is a serious breach of consumers' rights and should be treated as such. That is why this government is taking the power out of the Major Events Act and ensuring that it is in a place where the authorities can be properly notified and breaches appropriately dealt with. To get to the crux of the bill I lay before you today, ticket scalping is the term given to the unauthorised reselling of tickets to an event at a price higher than the ticket's original face value, sold with the intention of making a profit. In addition to ticket-scalping activities that take place at the location and on the day of the event, ticket scalping also occurs via a number of websites such as eBay, Gumtree and Trading Post.

In 2017, we saw the sale of tickets to popular songstress, Adele, selling at nearly 700 times their true value. This government acknowledges that there is a need for a secondary market to allow the legitimate resale of tickets to events—for example, in circumstances where someone may no longer be able to attend an event. However, the existence of a secondary market has both a positive and negative impact for consumers. While it provides consumers with access to tickets, it also exposes them to the risks associated with the unauthorised resale of tickets, including ticket scalping.

Currently, the Major Events Act 2013 requires the government to declare major events in order for the existing ticket-scalping provisions to apply. As I have already detailed, this really does not work if the minister refuses to declare an event major. Section 9 of the Major Events Act prohibits the sale or offering for sale of tickets in a controlled area for a major event, and in any other case prohibits the sale or offering for sale of tickets to a major event at a price that exceeds the original price by more than 10 per cent.

There are, however, clear limitations with respect to existing ticket-scalping provisions, including an inability for the current provisions to be effectively enforced. Further, existing provisions made under the Major Events Act do not address technological advances that enable the use of ticket bots—something I had never heard of before this legislation, I have to confess, but I am sure others are very familiar with them.

Apparently, it relates to the software applications that can perform simple actions such as purchasing a ticket at fractions of the time frame possible by an actual person. Such bots are used to purchase large amounts of tickets in a short period of time, which are later resold at a much higher price for profit. As a result, the availability of tickets to members of the general public at the original face value is significantly reduced, and in order to attend popular events, people are often forced to purchase tickets at a significantly higher price via the secondary market.

Legislative amendments are therefore required to address these risks and limitations and to increase overall consumer protection with respect to ticket scalping in South Australia. This was the commitment this government made throughout the election and one which we are firming to ensure consumers are protected. The bill actually repeals section 9 of the Major Events Act and amends the Fair Trading Act to deal with this complex issue in the best way possible. The bill will broaden the scope of the legislation so that ticket-scalping provisions apply to any sporting or entertainment event in South Australia that is subject to a resale restriction, removing the requirement to declare a major event. This will already include major concerts, such as Adele and Ed Sheeran, AFL grand finals and sporting events.

The bill will prohibit the advertising—hosting of an advertisement—for the resale of tickets or the actual resale to an event in South Australia to which the provisions apply for an amount that exceeds 110 per cent of the original supply cost of the ticket. This policy aligns with other jurisdictions interstate. There will be a requirement that any resale advertisement must include certain information, including the original supply cost of the ticket and the details of the location from which the ticket holder is authorised to view the event, including, for example, any bay number, row number or seat number of the ticket.

Importantly, to deal directly with bots on the internet, this bill will prohibit the use of software that enables or assists a person to circumvent the security measures of a website in order to purchase tickets for an event in contravention of the terms and conditions. Finally, the bill will enable the minister to require an event organiser to publicly disclose certain information about a particular event, including the total number of tickets available for sale to the general public. This reform is modelled on similar reforms that commenced in New South Wales from 31 March 2018.

These reforms not only increase transparency within the primary market but also enhance consumer protections with respect to the resale of tickets by the secondary market. Consumers will be better able to assess the availability of tickets and will have greater information available to them to make an informed decision on purchasing tickets. Consumer and Business Services, which sits under the Attorney-General's portfolio, administers the Fair Trading Act and has the necessary systems, processes and structures to carry out a compliance and enforcement function in relation to ticket scalping.

Quite simply, this bill puts consumers first. Authorised officers are already defined under the Fair Trading Act and, subject to the passing of the bill through this parliament, CBS authorised officers will monitor compliance with the new provisions and undertake appropriate enforcement activities. CBS will also provide advice to consumers who have questions or complaints in relation to ticket scalping. Expiable offences have also been introduced to enable quick and effective enforcement in appropriate cases, and this will also act as an effective deterrent to others.

This bill reflects the Marshall Liberal government's commitment to easing the burdens on consumers and protecting them where protections are required. The bill also delivers an election promise, and it delivers it within 100 days. It is a bill I am proud to introduce, and I look forward to its support. I want to commend the Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing for his valued advice in relation to the development of this policy. I am sure that he will have an opportunity to contribute to the debate for the passage of this bill. Again, I place on record our appreciation of his work in this regard. I commend the bill to the members of the house, and I table a copy of the explanation of clauses.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Koutsantonis.