Major Events Legislation Amendment (Ticket Scalping and Other Matters) Bill 2017

KNIGHT (Wendouree) — I am really pleased to speak on the Major Events Legislation Amendment (Ticket Scalping and Other Matters) Bill 2017 before us today. If I can extend a theme from the member for Essendon — and the member for Broadmeadows touched on this as well — to me this bill, like so many other bills that the Andrews Labor government brings to this place, is fundamentally about fairness. It is about everyone having the ability to access major events, which are so important to us in our lives, and to be able to go to those events on a level playing field. I was thinking about this and remembering that when I was a much younger gal I used to love going to the Big Day Out —

Mr McGuire — Last week.

Ms KNIGHT — Last week. I loved going to the Big Day Out; it was great. You would save up, you would go, you would be with a group of people and you would hear some great music, memorable things like Rage Against the Machine, TISM and bands like that. Probably the member for Dandenong would not have a clue what I am talking about; she is a bit young. But then when I had kids of my own one of the great things that I loved doing was taking two of them when they got a bit older. We would go together and share that experience. Then quite shockingly they got to the stage where they did not want me to go with them. I cannot imagine why! But anyway, that is what happened. So for Christmas every year they would get money to go to the Big Day Out. It was one of those fabulous, big events that was a big part of our family’s lives. It taught my kids how to deal with festivals. Then they migrated to the Meredith Music Festival and the rainbow festival. Music festivals have been a significant part of their lives as they have grown up, and still are a significant part.

For me it is really not just about the price of the ticket; it is about how we live our lives and all that joy. The member for Dandenong talked about the Paul McCartney concert and the joy that that brought her and all of those thousands and thousands of people that went. I had the same experience at Alice Cooper. It was great; it was fantastic. Ace Frehley just shredded the place, and then out came Alice Cooper. I will explain to the member for Dandenong who Alice Cooper is at another time.

This is absolutely about fairness. A few weeks back the Minister for Tourism and Major Events said the new measures in this bill ‘will crack down on scalpers and help keep our major events fair and accessible for everyone’. As I said, I am standing here as someone who, like so many other Victorians, loves a major event, but I am also here as a representative from a city that puts on some of the best events in regional Victoria.

I certainly support the thrust of this bill. It includes expanding ticket scalping provisions to major non-sporting events like concerts, exhibitions, theatre events and festivals; empowers the minister to apply the new ticket scalping offences to major events by making a major event ticketing declaration; and makes it an offence to sell any ticket to an event to which a major ticketing declaration applies at a price that exceeds the purchase price by more than 10 per cent. I do not want any of Victoria’s major events to be an opportunity for scalpers to take advantage of consumers, and I believe this bill will protect more people from being ripped off.

Before discussing the substance of the bill I just want to touch on Ballarat’s fantastic capacity and fabulous success in hosting significant sporting and cultural events. I reckon pound for pound Ballarat is the events capital of regional Victoria. We had the Bulldogs playing Port Adelaide this year in the regular season AFL game in Ballarat, and that was just a cracker. Next year we will be seeing two AFL games at Mars Stadium. This is a real demonstration of the Andrews government’s commitment to Ballarat.

On the cultural front, the Archibald Prize tour came to Ballarat in 2015 and 2016 and over 100 000 people attended the Art Gallery of Ballarat specifically to view prize entries over those couple of years. Some people will go to Ballarat, they will look at the Archibalds, they will go to the footy and they will go home. But there is a great number of people who will bring the entire family, who will stay for the weekend, who will drink in our pubs and eat in our restaurants and spend some money in our shops. So the benefits to Ballarat and the benefits for jobs in regional Victoria cannot be underestimated.

And of course you cannot forget White Night Ballarat. Earlier this year 40 000 people packed the centre of Ballarat’s CBD for Australia’s first regional White Night. It was a huge success, and one of the really special features of this major event was the display of work by local Ballarat artists. Whether it was the Pitcha Makin Fellas, Josh Muir or Deanne Gilson, the talents in Aboriginal Australia and in Ballarat were on display. These are great examples, but in Ballarat the major events do not stop. Just to go back to White Night and what major events do, that showcasing of local talent is really, really important. I was talking about the Big Day Out before. There was a local Ballarat band that played at the Big Day Out, and that experience for them was just fantastic.

Right now the countdown is on for the Cycling Australia Road National Championships from 3 to 7 January next year. The road nats this year saw 20 000 people lining the streets of Ballarat. This event provides a huge injection to our local economy and has been locked in for the next three years thanks to the Andrews Labor government. Ballarat is again playing host to White Night from 7.00 p.m. on 17 March until 7.00 a.m. on 18 March, and I would encourage every single member of this Parliament and all the staff to get in pretty quickly. You could not get a bed for love or money in Ballarat for this year’s White Night. I only have so many spare bedrooms, so you had better get in and book your accommodation toot-sweet. The return of this magnificent event is a testament to Ballarat’s capacity to host a successful major event.

In Victoria we have a terrific range of events, as I have just stated. Unfortunately sporting or non-sporting scalpers can get involved in the reselling of tickets and ripping off consumers. So I am sure all members support cracking down on scalping for non-sporting events. Whether it is for a World Wrestling Entertainment exclusive blockbuster, a FIFA World Cup qualifier or a performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we do not want to see anyone ripped off by scalpers, so the organisers of a sporting or non-sporting event will be able to ask for their event to be declared a major event for ticketing purposes. The minister will consider the request by looking at factors such as the size of the event, likely ticket demand, exclusive global content, likely media coverage, and the event’s contribution to Victoria’s international profile. If the minister declares a major event for ticketing purposes, it becomes an offence to sell tickets for more than 10 per cent higher than their original purchase price.

Earlier I spoke of the new offences created by this bill, and I think they are central to protecting Victorians from the rip-off that comes with scalping. Under the provisions of this bill scalpers will be hit with significant fines, and we must do that to really crack down on and stop these scalpers. I mentioned before that at the Big Day Out I remember seeing Rage Against the Machine. Then as my son got older he and his mates wanted to go and see them when they made a comeback and came back to Australia. Again I was banned from going, but they went along, queued up, wanted to get the tickets but could not get the tickets because they had sold out so quickly. Then of course the inflated prices from scalpers made it impossible for those kids to go. That is just one example of what we are rightly cracking down on here — making it fair for everyone to go to the major events that they love, whether it is sports, whether it is music, whether it is theatre, whether it is regional or whether it is a Melbourne-based event. Just that fairness I think is what we are all about. It is about protecting Victorians from predatory scalpers, and it is about sending a very clear message that everyone is welcome but the scalpers are not. I commend the bill to the house.