Australia: Labor MPs plead federal govt for total ban on gambling adverts

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Months after the Australian Parliamentary committee recommended a total ban on gambling advertisements, several MPs from the Labor Party are urging the federal government to move forward with the same recommendations and not dilute them.

The committee chair, Peta Murphy, who passed away a few weeks earlier, recommended that there was a need to combat gambling harm across Australia and the only way was to roll out a complete ban over the next few years.

Speaking to The Guardian, South-West Sydney MP Michael Freelander called gambling adverts “insidious”, saying, “It is all pervasive, and it is really impacting electorates like mine, particularly young people and young families. The social harm that it does is immeasurable.”

Murphy, who succumbed to breast cancer, reportedly worked on the gambling inquiry during her treatment. She even planned a meeting with the communications minister, Michelle Rowland, and the social services minister, Amanda Rishworth regarding the committee’s findings in August.

In order to pay tribute to her hard work towards the community, her colleagues stood up to support a total ban on gambling adverts. Assistant minister for competition, charities, Treasury and employment Andrew Leigh also stood in support.

“As a side benefit, we could forever redefine the term ‘Murphy’s law’. As Peta pointed out to me last week, it’s the most vulnerable who lose the most from gambling,” he said.

Assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, who also admired Murphy’s dedication, said, “It would be a great tribute to our friend if this parliament took seriously the job of reform in this area, to take that report and ensure that it doesn’t just sit on the shelf.”

Alliance for Gambling Reform also wrote to the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese regarding Murphy’s work, urging him to “honour the work” asking the PM to protect the community especially the youngsters from gambling harm.

Multiple steps have been taken in the last few months in order to curb illegal gambling and limit exposure to gambling adverts, despite that the problem still persists.

Rowland also conducted meetings recently with Prof Mike Daube from Curtin University and Prof Samantha Thomas from Deakin University regarding the gambling advertisement issues.

“We stressed to the minister that the evidence base about the need for a comprehensive ban was based on rigorous research over many years and while the government have implemented some initiatives they would do little to directly protect children,” Thomas said.