FRIDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Launch of Labor’s music policy; Labor’s crackdown on ticket gouging; Adani; climate change; Parliamentary sitting calendar; encryption legislation; ABC Senate Inquiry.
TONY BURKE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS: I’ll get us started then. As the Shadow Arts - today we've been launching our live music policy, Australia's contemporary music policy, the most comprehensive policy that any side of politics has launched for contemporary music and the reason for that is simple. At the moment Australian music is at a crossroads with streaming, the internationalisation of the industry, the countries that get the policy wrong, will end up simply listening to whatever comes out of L.A. The countries who get the policy right will not only have their own music as their own soundtrack to their country, but also have their anthems heard all around the world.
Today's policy goes all the way from the beginning in making sure children get that first entry into music when they're at school, right through the working life of the performer, and making sure as well that there's a fair deal for people to be able to buy tickets without being ripped off by companies at Viagogo, where at best they spend a fortune on tickets that were worth a whole lot less and being charged a whole lot less, or they get to the gate and what they've paid for doesn't even get them in the door.
So I'm really proud of where we've got to today, and you only had to look around that room to see the extraordinary endorsement we have from the songwriters of the nation. I'll hand over to Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Tony. Not your standard political meeting today, but it was very entertaining and I congratulate Tony and all the organisers of it. Labor today is saying that we're going to back live music in this country. The music industry in Australia employs 64,000 people, it generates literally billions of dollars. Australians are very proud of Australian musicians both at home and overseas.But we can't take the future of our music industry for granted. It needs government help.
So today, Labor's announcing a package of policies to back music and to back live music. We're going to make sure there are more music teachers in schools and more support for budding musicians to fall in love with music. We're going to make sure that the bands as they're starting off get that extra support to make sure that if they want to go international that they've got a little bit of support behind them, so they can fulfil their dreams and their talents.
We're also going to work to help support the mental health of people who work in the industry because it's a very tough business.
And also today, we're going to hear a bit more from my spokesperson Madeleine King in a moment. We are going to say to the ticket scalpers Viagogo and the rest of them, that Labor is going to do to you what we've done to the big banks. We're going to end the rorts and the rip offs. Why should working families have to pay hundreds of dollars more than the face value of a ticket when the ticket gets resold? This has become an area - ticket sales, which has become prey to a lack of regulation that hasn't kept up with the technology. Where you've got sophisticated ticket re-sellers using computer algorithms and bots to be able to buy up big slabs of tickets when they go on sale, and then resell these tickets at much higher prices, at inflated prices. Fans are losing out and events, big sporting events and concerts are already expensive enough to go to, but when you're paying extra to the rorts and the rip off merchants, to the scalpers, well then enough is enough.
So today Labor is declaring that we're on the side of the music industry of Australia, the musicians and the music teachers, all the families who want their kids to fall in love with music. But now I might just invite Madeleine King to talk a little bit further about our sensible changes, to make sure the cost of living needs of fans who want to go to sport and music events, that they're able to afford to do so.
MADELEINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS: Thanks Bill and thanks Tony. Congratulations Tony on a magnificent arts policy for music and live music in this country. I want to talk a little bit about the new ticketing, fair ticketing policy that Labor is going to adopt. I'll be blunt and I'll be to the point - ticket scalping is a scourge. It's a rip off and it has to stop. It's unfair to music lovers around this country, it's unfair to sports fans, and it's also unfair to the artists and the athletes who are sick to death of seeing their fans being ripped off time after time for these major events.
So what we're going to do is introduce a nationwide ban on the use of automated bot software. This is the software that goes in and buys many hundreds or even thousands of tickets in an instant before the punters at home, you or me, ordinary consumers get to buy tickets to your favourite artist or your favourite sporting team event. We're also going to make sure that there is a price cap on the resale of tickets. So this will stop the extraordinary and exorbitant rip off prices that we see reselling websites, like Viagogo, and there are more, when they seek to sell tickets to events, music events, sporting events at extraordinary prices that people simply can't afford.
Labor is also going to make sure the restrictions on any tickets, that there’s a fair disclosure of these things, so when people do buy them they know what they're buying, they know where they are sitting, they know what they'll be able to see, they don't have any other restrictions on the tickets - this is only fair and reasonable. And we're also going to make sure that when you do buy a ticket from someone else, a friend or family or someone for a fair and reasonable price, in a reasonable way that you won't get that ticket cancelled from underneath you when you arrive at the gate. And this is a fair and reasonable thing to do, to protect Australian consumers that just want to go to a concert, want to see a game of cricket or a game of footy and they should be able to do so.
And the other thing that Labor is committed to doing is getting the ACCC to review the effect of this legislation on this policy 12 months after it comes into effect. And that's because Labor is serious about stopping these rip off merchants. If these measures don't have the effect we want them to do - and I think they will, but if they don't, we are going to take action and make sure - we are going to take more action and make sure these rip off merchants are stopped in their tracks and stop ripping off Australian music lovers, Australian sports fans.
So with that I'll hand back to Bill, thank you very much.
SHORTEN: Great thanks Madeleine. If there are any questions on today's announcements or anything else?
JOURNALIST: In relation to Viagogo, it's already being chased by the ACCC anyway, it's an international company, how would you possibly police them?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, we've got the ACCC, we'll give them the powers to police it. I also think that there's a proposition, state governments have already started to do some of what we've said but I think that it needs national coordination. We want to make it very clear that the days of people having to pay more than 10 percent on a ticket which is sold to them after it's already been purchased by someone else - so capping it at 10 per cent of the extra price. I think that once that message gets out, the consumers are going to be a lot better off, but I might get Tony to talk a little bit further how we intend to put some teeth behind what we've said.
BURKE: Viagogo rips people off in a whole series of ways, and at the moment they are being prosecuted for one of them. One of the things they do is claim to be the official seller, they use the word 'official' in their title and they are not. You type the name of any band and the word tickets and they come up as the first entry usually on most search engines. By saying you can't sell a ticket for more than a 10 per cent mark-up, having the 110 per cent limit, that effectively says it's not just the issue here and there that Viagogo do that the ACCC can prosecute, they can prosecute the entire business model.
So the powers of the ACCC shift massively with what's being announced today in terms of dealing with Viagogo. Viagogo will respond to this in one of two ways, either they will become a reputable company in their dealings with Australia and if that's the outcome we're fine with that. Or 12 months after the change the ACCC will report back and say that further powers Federally are needed, and if that's what comes back, that's what we'll do.
JOURNALIST: But is there anything you can actually do? Viagogo is an international company so how could you prosecute them, they are out of our jurisdiction?
BURKE: Well they're appearing in the courts at the moment, they are taking very seriously the prosecution that is happening at the moment from the ACCC. So they are taking this seriously, the UK is acting on them as well. The problem at the moment is that under Australian law it's only a fraction of their business model that's actually legally a problem. But as I say and what Madeline made clear is if this change isn't enough and Viagogo decide to say, they don't care about Australian law at all, then we'll keep legislating until this is fixed.
JOURNALIST: What is the power the government has to limit the price increase?
BURKE: It's under Australian consumer law.
JOURNALIST: Would you consider blocking these websites in the same way piracy websites have been banned in Australia?
BURKE: To have that sort of process - the first thing is to say will this change in consumer law fix it, and if this change in consumer law fixes it then it's done, and Viagogo can't rip people off anymore. If this change doesn't then you can expect a number of options that would come back from the ACCC after they did the 12 month review. We will deal with that then. We're having the first change which directly attacks the entire model that Viagogo have been using to rip people off.
JOURNALIST: And the proposed fines for businesses and individuals are quite substantial. Is that justifiable?
BURKE: Yes on this, on the fines and that part of consumer law, we're beyond arts and we're well and truly into consumer, so I’ll pass that across.
KING: Well they're the existing fines, the $10 million, that's a maximum fine under the Australian consumer law at the moment. So if these things are decided in courts just like the Viagogo case at the moment that's in the Federal Court and the judge will decide what that penalty will be. I'm sure the ACCC when they see, quite frankly reprehensible acts and the case that the ACCC have put forward in this Viagogo case is very impressive, and I agree with all of their submissions, and I expect they will ask for higher penalties and that would be the judge who decides.
JOURNALIST: How much is the resale market worth?
KING: The resale market, I mean I don't think we can measure the whole size of it. What we know is that the automatic bots take up about 30 per cent of tickets out of the market, out of the primary market for normal consumers, and the value of the resale market depends of course on how much ticket resellers that rip people off, how much they're going to rip people off by. So it's not quantifiable.
BURKE: Can I just - sorry, if I may. On the question of what's the resale market worth, let's think of what it's worth to somebody who buys a ticket. Now you have a look at the material that Gang of Youths have compiled only in the last week. One person says he paid in the order of $300 for tickets that were meant to be worth $90. He's a casual on $15 an hour. You have people spending this sort of money even if they get in the door, they've already been ripped off. But a whole lot of people who then turn up to the festival or the gig and it turns out that they've sold the same ticket over and over again. So whoever had that ticket first got through and everybody else gets turned away. If you've had to travel there you've had to book accommodation all of that, that money's just gone, completely gone ,and that's the cost that we need to be able to fix.
JOURNALIST: In terms of the ticket bots, are you introducing new software or what are you doing exactly to make sure that they're not buying these ticket?
KING: Well this is something - we're in opposition which you all know. We want to be in government, when we're in government, where we have the resources of government that's when we'll be able to look further at how this legislation is put together and the means by which we'll stop these automated software bots. As anyone that knows this industry would know there's legislation on this in some states in the country, but also in the UK and the US and in Canada. So we're, in fact Australia is late to this game, late to protect artists and consumers and athletes in this space of ticket scalping. So we will learn from other jurisdictions. We'll see what their experiences are and take that on board as we develop the tools to use to get rid of these invidious and insidious software bots.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten can I just ask you in relation to Adani, would you consider scrapping the approvals on that project if you got into power?
SHORTEN: Well nothing's changed from what we've said previously. I remain a sceptic of Adani. They've had plenty of false starts and they've had plenty of broken promises. We've made it very clear that there shouldn't be any Commonwealth taxpayer money directly or indirectly in this investment. We'll back the scientists. Now we don't know what they'll be up to by the time we get into government, so we'll deal with the facts of the situation we’re presented with, if we win the election in 24 weeks’ time. But suffice to say we'll make decisions at that point based in the national interest. Of course we're not interested in sovereign risk or breaking contracts. We'll be guided by the best science and the national interest.
JOURNALIST: I've just been at Martin Place. There's been literally thousands of school students protesting Adani saying "stop Adani", calling on the Prime Minister to change. What are your thoughts on that?
SHORTEN: I saw Mr Morrison objected to the kids going to protest. Well, that's one way to stop the kids going to protest, it's do something about climate change. I think - you'd hope they wouldn't do it every day, but I can understand why kids are passionate about these matters. I also think it's a bit difficult for the government to give a lecture the kids missing a couple of hours at school when the Morrison Government's only going to sit for eight days - ten days at parliament in the next eight months. I mean, the kids might have a look at Mr Morrison and say well you don't even go to work mate.
JOURNALIST: Are you a keen to discourage the development of other coal mines?
SHORTEN: Do you mean thermal or coking coal?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, we've got the existing mines, they'll keep operating. I've made it very clear that coal is still part of our energy mix going forward. But Labor wants to see real action on climate change. I think this government can't afford just to pretend that renewables aren't the way of the future. I outlined with Mark Butler and Chris Bowen last Thursday, a series of changes we would like to see. So one, we acknowledge coal still has a part of our future - both in an export context and also, in power generation in Australia. But a Labor Government I lead is going to back in investment in renewables. We're setting a goal that by 2030, 50 per cent of our energy mix should come from renewables. We've said that we want to roll out 100,000 batteries - be available, with rebates, $2,000 subsidies to 100,000 Australian households who earn less than $180,000 dollars. There's two million Australian households, or very close to two million Australian households, who have solar on the rooftops. They like it, they see that it gives them the opportunity for cheaper energy. We want to help bridge the gap by providing more batteries.
JOURNALIST: So is the Labor Party against the opening of more coal mines in Australia?
SHORTEN: Well I don't deal in hypotheticals. We certainly are sceptical about the Adani development in the Galilee Basin. You know, that's had plenty of false starts. I think initially when Adani and their backers trumpeted their arrival, they said there would be 10,000 jobs. That's now whittled down to less than 1,000 direct jobs. Adani I think initially said they wanted a 60 million tonne mine. Now that's down to a 10 million tonne mine. So we'll take each case based upon its merits, whether or not it qualifies for the environmental and scientific approvals.
JOURNALIST: My colleagues at Sky would like to know what your view is on encryption and the plans to allow interception?
SHORTEN: What's my view on encryption?
JOURNALIST: Sky have asked for you to express the position on the Government's view to make it easy for the security services to access encrypted messaging apps?
SHORTEN: Well, what we do with all of the proposals on national security is we work through them in a principally bipartisan way. I've worked with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, which was you know, not everyone could do, and I've worked with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on national security. What we do is that when the Government says we need to update our laws, and they've said that on about 15 occasions, we send it to a parliamentary committee of experts. We hear all the third parties, we get all the experts and we say is this law as it's initially drafted, correct, or does it need to make improvements because the first draft had unintended consequences, or created new problems or didn't solve the problems it said it was seeking to do. So I take a very steadied parliamentary democracy approach to this. We work through the issues and we make sure we get them right. I just say to the current government, they want to rush this legislation through. Quite often when you rush legislation, you get it wrong. There's been evidence given today in public hearings which has expressed concerns about the initial form of the bill. We'll keep working through to make sure that whatever law we do arrive at works. No point in passing a law which doesn't work. No point in passing a law which leaves the back door open for Russian hackers to come in. No point leaving a law open or passed which then creates difficulties with our allies. So we'll work through the issues. Australians should be rest assured that my record over five years and three Liberal Prime Ministers, is we get it right the first time, we get it right the first time by making sure we cross our Ts and dot our Is.
JOURNALIST: And you've probably been asked a thousand times, was it fair for the ABC to sack Michelle Guthrie?
SHORTEN: Wherever you look in this government, instability is the order of the day. I think most of us are shocked that in a billion dollar institution, which the government has oversights, that you've got this sort of vendetta. You know, this sort of rival vendetta, faction approach. I think the board of the ABC has got questions to answer. Either they knew what was going on and did nothing, or they didn't know what was going on and you have to ask the question why didn't you know? And as for the government, I mean what sort of ramshackle outfit are they running. When you've got a billion dollar national public broadcaster clearly with deep divisions, and all - they seem to be oblivious to the instability. But I can only assume it's because the government's been distracted by their own constant disunity, division, dysfunction and chaos.
Thanks everybody, thanks for coming today.