Australia should have ‘Murphy’s law’ gambling ad ban by now: Costello

Australia’s most prominent anti-gambling advocate Tim Costello is disappointed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not announced a betting crackdown before the Dunkley byelection to honour the legacy of the seat’s former MP, Peta Murphy.

The prime minister, who said he has met with Costello on the issue, this week declined to commit to the full, phased-in ban recommended in Murphy’s landmark report handed down in July last year. Governments typically respond to parliamentary inquiries within six months but the Albanese government has not yet done so.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with teal MPs including Zoe Daniel (right).Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Murphy, who died from cancer in December, spearheaded a political campaign to clamp down on sports betting advertising, the prevalence of which has become a growing community concern.

Her push for a blanket ban is supported by some Labor MPs and progressive crossbenchers but opposed by sporting bodies and TV companies that get revenue from gambling firms.

Goldstein MP Zoe Daniel asked Albanese on Tuesday: “The Dunkley byelection is this weekend. The late and great Peta Murphy wanted a full ban on gambling ads, saying, ‘It needs to be done, with no room for circumvention.’ Will the government honour her call?”

He responded by saying, “We’re indebted to her for her contribution to what is a critical issue” and cited policies to reduce social problems caused by gambling addiction, including creating a self-exclusion register and forcing bookmakers to give users monthly statements of betting activity.

Reverend Tim Costello.

Reverend Tim Costello.Credit: Joe Armao

Albanese did not specifically commit to implementing any of Murphy’s recommendations but said his ministers were “working diligently” through Murphy’s report.

“I myself have met with people like Tim Costello about these issues and we’re working through them to make sure that any action doesn’t have unintended consequences because that’s what good governments do,” he said.


“The government has been working hard on a comprehensive approach to tackling gambling harm.”

Costello, who lives in the south-eastern Melbourne seat of Dunkley, said the government should have announced new laws to enact Murphy’s recommendations, which he suggested branding “Murphy’s law”, ahead of the byelection.

“It’s one of the most socially significant and courageous recommendations in recent political history and it would have been fitting to highlight it and honour her,” he said.

“She was courageous and morally clear on sports betting ads and protecting children from grooming. That would be applauded by most of this nation, including people in Dunkley.”

A spokesman for Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, who has consistently said she is committed to harm reduction, said the minister had been meeting with public health experts, academics and harm-reduction advocates.

Gambling policy has not featured as an issue in the lead-up to Saturday’s byelection, which has been focused on the cost-of-living debate.

Bridget McKenzie with Peter Dutton in Dunkley earlier this month.

Bridget McKenzie with Peter Dutton in Dunkley earlier this month.Credit: Eamon Gallagher

Labor ads designed to test voter responses to potential Liberal attack lines have been leaked, revealing the government was worried it would be attacked as anti-Victorian.

“Sydneysider Anthony Albanese has cut infrastructure funding,” runs one of the ads, which were tested in focus groups as Labor prepared for the campaign.

Another referenced Labor’s decision to axe the Frankston-Baxter rail route in the electorate, while yet another stated Labor’s infrastructure decisions represented the “worst rip-off Victorians have ever faced by a federal government”.

Opposition transport spokeswoman Bridget McKenzie said the fake ads proved Labor was sensitive about how its funding decisions would be received in Dunkley.

“Labor can’t spin their way out of infrastructure cuts that even [Victorian Labor treasurer] Tim Pallas describes as a ‘shocker’,” she said.

”These mock attack ads show Labor knows it has done the wrong thing and is war gaming against the very people who have been betrayed.”

A Labor campaign spokesperson said the party expected Dutton to go negative.

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