| June 19, 2017
Statement on Live Music Ticket issues
I take great pleasure in rising to contribute to the motion put forward by the member opposite, the member for Watson. It is a very important issue, and it is an issue that does not just apply to the major concerts and the major theatrical events. This is an issue that filters right down to, effectively, any festival or any musical event that the groups who do this work behind the scenes are confident will sell out. If the Meredith Music Festival in Victoria has a history of selling out each and every year, what happens is the first 1,000 or 2,000 tickets available are bought by scammers overseas that obviously have no intention of coming along to the event; however, they are going to recoup their money four or five times over by reselling the tickets at a later stage.
These issues have previously been put to the Victorian government. There is a way that we can address this, and it is by giving major event status to each of these festivals or events. When an event has major event status, each of the tickets that are released is, effectively, registered and therefore can be traced. As we know, you are simply not allowed to scalp tickets that are at a price over and above the face value of those tickets. One problem with this is that many of the promoters do not want to go through the hassle and expense of having their event declared a major event. They do not want to partake in all of the regulation that surrounds the Major Sporting Events Act 2009. It does not even need to be a sporting event; they can fit into these areas. So there is a bit of an issue here in relation to the promoters and event organisers. They do not want to go down the pathway of being declared a major event.
However, the concept of the member opposite, who has put this motion to the House, remains absolutely valid: many people are being duped. I was not aware of the viagogo website, which the member makes reference to. I did have a quick look while he was talking and, yes, there is an opportunity to lose your money very easily on some of these sites. It is especially worrying when everyday people, not even looking to go to viagogo, get directed there by the search engines themselves. It is an issue that warrants both the federal government and the state governments getting their heads together to see if an outcome can be addressed.
I know that the Australian government is very strong in its support for live performances in Australia. Certainly, there is this whole push towards the communities and the arts sector themselves. I know that the Minister for Small Business, Michael McCormack, has the portfolio responsibility for the Australian Consumer Law in the particular area relating to Australian audiences' consumer interests and how they are protected. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have been working closely with the live performance industry to ensure safeguards are put in place to prevent ticket scalping, particularly through the use of bots. The department is working closely with the Treasury to look for options to address these concerns about online ticket scalping. However, the issues and options need to be considered carefully and methodically, including the practicality of trying to regulate the bots as opposed to clearer consumer protection rights in this area.
Whilst I give the member opposite full credit for bringing this issue to the House and making everybody aware that this is going on, I would encourage all levels of government to get together. Even local governments will pay the price when everyday local people are denied access to places such as Meredith and a range of other festivals around Victoria and Australia, and when people who are actually able to go are ripped off. People who wanted to go and see Paul McCartney ended up watching a tribute band. That is just horrendous. If this is going to happen on an ongoing basis, it needs to be addressed.