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Authorised by Matt Fregon MP, 1/40 Montclair Avenue GLEN WAVERLEY VIC 3150

Media Centre

GAMBLING REGULATION AMENDMENT (WAGERING AND BETTING TAX) BILL 2021

[embed]https://youtu.be/jjeyMaEYk3c[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (16:52): I also rise to speak on the Gambling Regulation Amendment (Wagering and Betting Tax) Bill 2021. I thank all previous members for their contributions. It is wonderful to see that the opposition will not be opposing this bill and that we have some bipartisanship—that is good. This bill amends the Gambling Regulation Act 2003, and its prime and—as the member for Burwood said—very short contents will increase the rate of the wagering and betting tax from 8 per cent to 10 per cent from 1 July 2021. This change will support an increase in the point-of-consumption tax payment to the Victorian racing industry from 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent of the net wagering revenue, helping bridge the existing funding gap between the New South Wales and Victorian racing industries. This rate change will result in annual Victorian racing industry payments increasing by about $47.6 million to $83.3 million in 2021–22. As other members have mentioned, racing is part of the culture of, I guess, being a Victorian. I am fairly sure we are the only state that has a public holiday for a horse race, and I think in general we all look forward to Melbourne Cup Day. I note the member for Burwood was talking about Oaks Day, which is a great day also—Ladies Day—but for most of us Melbourne Cup Day is the day that stops the nation, as they say, and one where everyone from the young to the old have a bit of a sweep or might have a barbecue and enjoy the day. For those that go to the races, obviously it is fantastic as well. The trains are usually full, and a lot of merriment is involved. So supporting our racing industry is supporting what we know as being Victorian. My family has a little bit of experience in the racing industry. David Fregon was a trainer. I think his most popular horse was Island Spy, who won a couple. But racing comes into all of our lives. I can think of just a few weeks ago I was at the Mount Waverley Reserve. Waverley Blues were playing a home game. We got to the half-time break, and all of a sudden everyone stopped and put on a race on the TV and everyone stopped and watched the race. There was a horse by the name of Explosive Jack that won that race. That was at group 1. There was a lot of excitement in the room. It turns out there were a number of part-owners in the room, and there was a lot of goodwill to be had for them. So to Dilmah and the others, you seem to be on a winner there, and I think they have had some success since then as well. So it really does permeate through our communities. This increase in revenue will encourage the ongoing investment in an industry that injects an estimated $4.3 billion annually into Victoria’s economy and sustains more than 33 000 full-time equivalent jobs. In regional Victoria more than 100 clubs support over 9700 full-time equivalent jobs and provide an estimated $1.15 billion annually, if you do not mind, in economic value, making it a significantly valued sector. Gambling as such is a part of our life, and obviously we regulate that. I can remember growing up, my grandpa would sit there with the paper in front of him, and he would be ringing up the tote or the TAB. I can remember my father had a phone account, as you do. I can still probably remember the account number is such and such and such. I will not say the number, because it might be still be valid. So a lot of us grow up with family members who have a bit of a flutter, and there is nothing wrong with that. Obviously when that becomes more than just having a flutter, then it starts to become a problem, so as a state that is why we invest in reducing gambling harm. I have mentioned in this house before I guess a hobbyhorse of mine, which is gambling-like behaviour in computer games, and I note that even a number of weeks ago the Four Corners program on gaming with online transactions and loot boxes was I think a really good exposé on that side of an industry which maybe not many know about. Technology tends to run ahead of legislation, of regulation, and that is probably pretty standard in most areas of technology. I have been talking to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation and her office about my concerns about gambling-like behaviour in computer games, and I am very pleased to know that she has reached out to the federal minister in this area to try and get some feedback on what they will be doing as a federal government, given it is their jurisdiction for that. They have had a number of reports, as I have said in this house before, and it is a concerning part of this industry. It is a huge industry. When we talk about the point-of-consumption tax, it is probably difficult, as I accept, to classify gambling-like behaviour or loot boxes as gambling. I appreciate that there are complexities there because there is no actual money reward. It is not like a poker machine. It is not like the horseraces. It is somewhat removed, so I can understand there are complexities. I can understand it may take some time to work out what is gambling and what is not gambling, but I do think that is something as a country we need to look at and we need to classify, especially when these things are available in games that are open to seven-year-olds or 10-year-olds or 15-year-olds who can potentially be earning their own money and have their own debit card and their parents do not know. I guess I put it to you that, when I read the Victorian gambling legislation and the definition of ‘gambling’ and I look at at least some of the aspects of loot boxes that are available in G-rated games, I do not see the difference. There may not be actual currency coming back, but there are things of value. There is a risk-reward of differing value depending on the money you put in. I make the argument that they are very similar. So if we are looking at a point-of-consumption tax, which I support—and I note that we all in this house seem to support it, which is great—and we are looking at the point of that tax, which this government brought in to get some revenue from where the transactions are happening, that is, in Victoria, and we are looking at companies the likes of, I would imagine, Bet365, Ladbrokes, PointsBet and Sportsbet, all those sorts of companies are the ones that are contributing to the Anzac Day Proceeds Fund and the Hospitals and Charities Fund. This is a good thing. So I guess I ask the question: if the point is to take revenue at the point of consumption, which is what this tax that we are talking about today is for, and if loot boxes, some or any, are potentially the same as gambling under our own definitions, then I would argue that we should probably be taking that same point-of-consumption tax from companies like Electronic Arts, Bethesda and Blizzard. Now, I appreciate the complexities also. These are multinational companies. How do we do that? Maybe that is not simple. But I think it is something that we need to consider going forward, because this market in computer games is already bigger than Hollywood. It is a huge market. The method of loot boxes is a way of making money, and they make a lot of money. So we need to help where we can.

GAMBLING REGULATION AMENDMENT (WAGERING AND BETTING TAX) BILL 2021

[embed]https://youtu.be/jjeyMaEYk3c[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (16:52): I also rise to speak on the Gambling Regulation Amendment (Wagering and Betting Tax) Bill 2021. I thank all previous members for their contributions. It is wonderful to see that the opposition will not be opposing this bill and that we have some bipartisanship—that is good. This bill amends the Gambling Regulation Act 2003, and its prime and—as the member for Burwood said—very short contents will increase the rate of the wagering and betting tax from 8 per cent to 10 per cent from 1 July 2021. This change will support an increase in the point-of-consumption tax payment to the Victorian racing industry from 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent of the net wagering revenue, helping bridge the existing funding gap between the New South Wales and Victorian racing industries. This rate change will result in annual Victorian racing industry payments increasing by about $47.6 million to $83.3 million in 2021–22. As other members have mentioned, racing is part of the culture of, I guess, being a Victorian. I am fairly sure we are the only state that has a public holiday for a horse race, and I think in general we all look forward to Melbourne Cup Day. I note the member for Burwood was talking about Oaks Day, which is a great day also—Ladies Day—but for most of us Melbourne Cup Day is the day that stops the nation, as they say, and one where everyone from the young to the old have a bit of a sweep or might have a barbecue and enjoy the day. For those that go to the races, obviously it is fantastic as well. The trains are usually full, and a lot of merriment is involved. So supporting our racing industry is supporting what we know as being Victorian. My family has a little bit of experience in the racing industry. David Fregon was a trainer. I think his most popular horse was Island Spy, who won a couple. But racing comes into all of our lives. I can think of just a few weeks ago I was at the Mount Waverley Reserve. Waverley Blues were playing a home game. We got to the half-time break, and all of a sudden everyone stopped and put on a race on the TV and everyone stopped and watched the race. There was a horse by the name of Explosive Jack that won that race. That was at group 1. There was a lot of excitement in the room. It turns out there were a number of part-owners in the room, and there was a lot of goodwill to be had for them. So to Dilmah and the others, you seem to be on a winner there, and I think they have had some success since then as well. So it really does permeate through our communities. This increase in revenue will encourage the ongoing investment in an industry that injects an estimated $4.3 billion annually into Victoria’s economy and sustains more than 33 000 full-time equivalent jobs. In regional Victoria more than 100 clubs support over 9700 full-time equivalent jobs and provide an estimated $1.15 billion annually, if you do not mind, in economic value, making it a significantly valued sector. Gambling as such is a part of our life, and obviously we regulate that. I can remember growing up, my grandpa would sit there with the paper in front of him, and he would be ringing up the tote or the TAB. I can remember my father had a phone account, as you do. I can still probably remember the account number is such and such and such. I will not say the number, because it might be still be valid. So a lot of us grow up with family members who have a bit of a flutter, and there is nothing wrong with that. Obviously when that becomes more than just having a flutter, then it starts to become a problem, so as a state that is why we invest in reducing gambling harm. I have mentioned in this house before I guess a hobbyhorse of mine, which is gambling-like behaviour in computer games, and I note that even a number of weeks ago the Four Corners program on gaming with online transactions and loot boxes was I think a really good exposé on that side of an industry which maybe not many know about. Technology tends to run ahead of legislation, of regulation, and that is probably pretty standard in most areas of technology. I have been talking to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation and her office about my concerns about gambling-like behaviour in computer games, and I am very pleased to know that she has reached out to the federal minister in this area to try and get some feedback on what they will be doing as a federal government, given it is their jurisdiction for that. They have had a number of reports, as I have said in this house before, and it is a concerning part of this industry. It is a huge industry. When we talk about the point-of-consumption tax, it is probably difficult, as I accept, to classify gambling-like behaviour or loot boxes as gambling. I appreciate that there are complexities there because there is no actual money reward. It is not like a poker machine. It is not like the horseraces. It is somewhat removed, so I can understand there are complexities. I can understand it may take some time to work out what is gambling and what is not gambling, but I do think that is something as a country we need to look at and we need to classify, especially when these things are available in games that are open to seven-year-olds or 10-year-olds or 15-year-olds who can potentially be earning their own money and have their own debit card and their parents do not know. I guess I put it to you that, when I read the Victorian gambling legislation and the definition of ‘gambling’ and I look at at least some of the aspects of loot boxes that are available in G-rated games, I do not see the difference. There may not be actual currency coming back, but there are things of value. There is a risk-reward of differing value depending on the money you put in. I make the argument that they are very similar. So if we are looking at a point-of-consumption tax, which I support—and I note that we all in this house seem to support it, which is great—and we are looking at the point of that tax, which this government brought in to get some revenue from where the transactions are happening, that is, in Victoria, and we are looking at companies the likes of, I would imagine, Bet365, Ladbrokes, PointsBet and Sportsbet, all those sorts of companies are the ones that are contributing to the Anzac Day Proceeds Fund and the Hospitals and Charities Fund. This is a good thing. So I guess I ask the question: if the point is to take revenue at the point of consumption, which is what this tax that we are talking about today is for, and if loot boxes, some or any, are potentially the same as gambling under our own definitions, then I would argue that we should probably be taking that same point-of-consumption tax from companies like Electronic Arts, Bethesda and Blizzard. Now, I appreciate the complexities also. These are multinational companies. How do we do that? Maybe that is not simple. But I think it is something that we need to consider going forward, because this market in computer games is already bigger than Hollywood. It is a huge market. The method of loot boxes is a way of making money, and they make a lot of money. So we need to help where we can.

Bus Route 733

[embed]https://youtu.be/5hufux0wNLI[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:28): (5860) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Public Transport. Recently I met with the Public and Active Transport Victoria group, who are very passionate about Melbourne’s public transport system and in particular our bus network. To date our government, the Andrews Labor government, has obviously shown a continued commitment to improving our public transport network, and that is why we have been removing and continue to remove dangerous and congested level crossings. It is why we are building the Metro Tunnel—and the Minister for Transport Infrastructure is there basking in the beauty of the Metro Tunnel as it gets dug underneath us—why we are untangling the city loop to run more trains more often and why we are fixing our suburban and regional roads and rail lines. It is to get Victorians home to their families safer and sooner wherever they live, including our own Monash—and the Forster Road bridge is looking fantastic at the moment, by the way. Thank you, Minister. Our bus services are an essential part of the network, and so the action I seek from the minister is to ask the Department of Transport to investigate what options might be available to improve the services along the 733 bus route. The route departs from Oakleigh station and travels via Clayton, Monash Uni and Mount Waverley before terminating in Box Hill. Route 733 has 78 stops, and the total trip duration of this route is approximately 58 minutes. Route 733 provides a vital link for Melburnians living and working in suburbs not currently serviced directly by our train network but which will be when the Suburban Rail Loop comes in not too far away. Now, I look forward to the minister’s response and reporting the findings back to my constituents and to the Public and Active Transport Victoria group, who are very interested in our district.

Bus Route 733

[embed]https://youtu.be/5hufux0wNLI[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:28): (5860) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Public Transport. Recently I met with the Public and Active Transport Victoria group, who are very passionate about Melbourne’s public transport system and in particular our bus network. To date our government, the Andrews Labor government, has obviously shown a continued commitment to improving our public transport network, and that is why we have been removing and continue to remove dangerous and congested level crossings. It is why we are building the Metro Tunnel—and the Minister for Transport Infrastructure is there basking in the beauty of the Metro Tunnel as it gets dug underneath us—why we are untangling the city loop to run more trains more often and why we are fixing our suburban and regional roads and rail lines. It is to get Victorians home to their families safer and sooner wherever they live, including our own Monash—and the Forster Road bridge is looking fantastic at the moment, by the way. Thank you, Minister. Our bus services are an essential part of the network, and so the action I seek from the minister is to ask the Department of Transport to investigate what options might be available to improve the services along the 733 bus route. The route departs from Oakleigh station and travels via Clayton, Monash Uni and Mount Waverley before terminating in Box Hill. Route 733 has 78 stops, and the total trip duration of this route is approximately 58 minutes. Route 733 provides a vital link for Melburnians living and working in suburbs not currently serviced directly by our train network but which will be when the Suburban Rail Loop comes in not too far away. Now, I look forward to the minister’s response and reporting the findings back to my constituents and to the Public and Active Transport Victoria group, who are very interested in our district.

Members Statement-Mount Waverley Primary School and Holmesglen Tafe

[embed]https://youtu.be/yrCBvBCznTc[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (10:05): I rise to recognise the incredible work being done by the students and teachers at Mount Waverley Primary School, who are waging a war on waste and leading the way in sustainability and recycling within both their school and our wider Mount Waverley community. Last Friday we welcomed the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change to the school, where we met with principal Greg Paine, fabulous students and their dedicated educators. Sustainability captains Sophie, Swasti, Saachi, Gargi and Mathvin led us on a tour of the campus, showing the many innovative ways their school is leading the way in sustainability, solar, permaculture and recycling. With their own national park, worm farm, permaculture garden, sustainability hub, chicken coop—where they are having a democratic ballot for the names of the chickens, by the way, and I am voting for Debbie—butterfly gardens, community recycling bins and classroom recycling set-up, Mount Waverley Primary School were deserving winners of the 2020 ResourceSmart School of the Year for their commitment to sustainability, waste reduction and biodiversity conservation.

Members Statement-Mount Waverley Primary School and Holmesglen Tafe

[embed]https://youtu.be/yrCBvBCznTc[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (10:05): I rise to recognise the incredible work being done by the students and teachers at Mount Waverley Primary School, who are waging a war on waste and leading the way in sustainability and recycling within both their school and our wider Mount Waverley community. Last Friday we welcomed the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change to the school, where we met with principal Greg Paine, fabulous students and their dedicated educators. Sustainability captains Sophie, Swasti, Saachi, Gargi and Mathvin led us on a tour of the campus, showing the many innovative ways their school is leading the way in sustainability, solar, permaculture and recycling. With their own national park, worm farm, permaculture garden, sustainability hub, chicken coop—where they are having a democratic ballot for the names of the chickens, by the way, and I am voting for Debbie—butterfly gardens, community recycling bins and classroom recycling set-up, Mount Waverley Primary School were deserving winners of the 2020 ResourceSmart School of the Year for their commitment to sustainability, waste reduction and biodiversity conservation.

Bill- ZERO AND LOW EMISSION VEHICLE DISTANCE-BASED CHARGE BILL 2021

[embed]https://youtu.be/I7oApuJ_zfM[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:07): I rise gladly to speak on the Zero and Low Emission Vehicle Distance-based Charge Bill 2021, and I would just like to start by referring to something my colleague the member for Burwood was pointing out. He made a fantastic argument about the commonwealth versus state revenue collection. As we know, we have basically a usage charge via the petrol levy—or tax or whatever you want to call it—that comes from the commonwealth at the moment. As the member rightly said, we get 30 cents in the dollar back. So, as he pointed out, we are paying via our fuel levy for roads in other states. Good on them—well done. We get less GST. We are a bigger economy. We are one nation. I am okay with that. We support those states that maybe earn less, and we get more from WA from mining. That is fine. But one thing I think we are doing with this charge is that we are bringing more of a user-pays decision for our road use going forward. When it comes to EVs, I do not drive one yet, but I am pretty sure that when my current lease expires next year I will have the option of getting at least a hybrid and hopefully an EV. Ms Britnell: Well, that’s up to your whole government. Put it on the list. Mr FREGON: It is on the list. I am looking forward to it. The member has made a contribution that it has got to be on the list. Well, I am reliably informed by the people down at Waverley Toyota, in my patch at Mount Waverley, that the hybrid Kluger will be available and that the Kluger will be a hybrid. So I am looking forward to that, and a big shout-out to the guys down at Waverley Toyota. My current Kluger is great; it will be even better when it is a hybrid. We are talking today about this charge. Now, again the member for Burwood talked also about the opposition’s plans to somehow change the budget, to find revenue out of nothing, and a secret plan. I do not think I have heard a better secret plan since Josh Lyman on The West Wing decided that he had a secret plan about inflation, and now the opposition Shadow Treasurer has a secret plan about cutting services or something. I do not know. We will find out more, I guess, when the time comes. This charge is about equity. It is about the fact of users on the road, like all of us, paying our way as we use the road. I am very surprised that the opposition is against this basic idea of, ‘The more you use something, the more you pay’, because I would have thought that is capitalism, in a sense. I would have thought that if we buy a pack of chips, we pay for a pack of chips, or if I pay for my energy bills, it is because I have used more energy. Now, I am all for—obviously, with this government—supporting those who are vulnerable, those who need help. That is the beauty of having general revenue and collected revenue; it lets us help those who need a bit more of a hand. But at the same time, I generally do not have a problem with the fact that if I am driving more on the roads, I pay my way, and we do that right now with the fuel levy. I think when you look at manufacturers and technology companies alike, they are rapidly moving our automotive industry towards an electric future. The horse has bolted. I mean, the UK have already said that by 2030 they are not going to sell any petrol cars. Our car manufacturers worldwide have basically stopped R and D on combustion engines. This, in my opinion, is a done deal. Now, members on the side talked about disincentive, and I spoke to a gentleman from my electorate only yesterday when I was doorknocking—Kev—and Kevin had the same question. He said he was concerned about the disincentive, and I get that, because with any increase in charge, it is a logical argument to come back. But that is why we have put in $100 million worth of incentives for the much smaller amount of revenue that we are receiving. This is a structural change. This is a change that Victorians in general, yes, will pay for, but will also get the benefit of. At the moment we pay and we do not get the benefit—not fully. We must decide as a country also what role we want to play with electric vehicles on our roads. It is not just up to state governments, of which there are a number who are in the transition to the very thing we are talking about today—and New Zealand was mentioned as doing the same thing—we also need our federal government to work on incentives just like we are with our rebates. Maybe they could match our rebates; that would be a good thing. Now, we are committed to a long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as we talked about on the weekend—the fantastic announcement that was from the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change—and reaching this target requires a transition of our vehicle fleet to zero-emission vehicles. So we are already committed. We are committed to incentivising this transition. I think it was the member for Prahran who stood up and talked about wanting us to transition but then seemed to have a problem that we were starting to change over to EVs. I would have thought that is exactly what transition is, so we might need to check the dictionary on that one. The $100 million package that I mentioned also includes a $46 million subsidy program to encourage motorists and businesses to make their next vehicle zero emission, with low- or medium-priced vehicles to be a target of the program. Twenty thousand subsidies are more than triple the size of the current zero-emission vehicle fleet in Victoria, with 6000 or thereabouts sold at the moment. Now, these subsidies will increase the supply and range of vehicles available—it makes sense; at the moment one of the problems with the zero-emissions cars is that they are quite pricey, at least a lot of them are. But as more people change over, more people are looking at getting their subsidies of in the vicinity of $3000-odd and the money that you save by moving to a zero-emissions vehicle on top of that. We are talking about the levy today, the federal fuel levy. The fuel levy makes up a small part of the amount when you put petrol into your car at the pump. When you are paying $1.50, there is a lot of petrol in that price and there is a lot of mark-up for the petrol station, whereas if you are lucky enough to have solar panels at home—and I have not got them yet, but I am hoping to do that soon—you can charge your zero-emission vehicle at home so you are getting renewable energy. As we move even closer and closer to the targets that we are going to have by 2030, we will have renewable energy charging the cars on the roads for a much lower output from each person with a car. The subsidy program, as I said, will provide for 20 000 eligible vehicles, the first stage being 4000 allotments of $3000. Now, you cannot tell me that that is not an incentive. I mean, we do this in other areas. We do this in the housing market with first home buyers, and we know that has an incentive quality. We know that that affects the housing market. We know that that means for new home owners it is just a little bit easier to get in. That is what we are doing: we are making it a little bit easier. Yes, there are some structural changes, and yes, there is a charge, but responsible government is about looking to the future as well. It is about looking at how we pay for our roads, our hospitals and our infrastructure. Of the money that we bring in at the moment, as we have said, tenfold is going out to encourage zero-emission vehicles. This is a responsible bill, this is a good bill and I commend it to the house.

Bill- ZERO AND LOW EMISSION VEHICLE DISTANCE-BASED CHARGE BILL 2021

[embed]https://youtu.be/I7oApuJ_zfM[/embed] Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:07): I rise gladly to speak on the Zero and Low Emission Vehicle Distance-based Charge Bill 2021, and I would just like to start by referring to something my colleague the member for Burwood was pointing out. He made a fantastic argument about the commonwealth versus state revenue collection. As we know, we have basically a usage charge via the petrol levy—or tax or whatever you want to call it—that comes from the commonwealth at the moment. As the member rightly said, we get 30 cents in the dollar back. So, as he pointed out, we are paying via our fuel levy for roads in other states. Good on them—well done. We get less GST. We are a bigger economy. We are one nation. I am okay with that. We support those states that maybe earn less, and we get more from WA from mining. That is fine. But one thing I think we are doing with this charge is that we are bringing more of a user-pays decision for our road use going forward. When it comes to EVs, I do not drive one yet, but I am pretty sure that when my current lease expires next year I will have the option of getting at least a hybrid and hopefully an EV. Ms Britnell: Well, that’s up to your whole government. Put it on the list. Mr FREGON: It is on the list. I am looking forward to it. The member has made a contribution that it has got to be on the list. Well, I am reliably informed by the people down at Waverley Toyota, in my patch at Mount Waverley, that the hybrid Kluger will be available and that the Kluger will be a hybrid. So I am looking forward to that, and a big shout-out to the guys down at Waverley Toyota. My current Kluger is great; it will be even better when it is a hybrid. We are talking today about this charge. Now, again the member for Burwood talked also about the opposition’s plans to somehow change the budget, to find revenue out of nothing, and a secret plan. I do not think I have heard a better secret plan since Josh Lyman on The West Wing decided that he had a secret plan about inflation, and now the opposition Shadow Treasurer has a secret plan about cutting services or something. I do not know. We will find out more, I guess, when the time comes. This charge is about equity. It is about the fact of users on the road, like all of us, paying our way as we use the road. I am very surprised that the opposition is against this basic idea of, ‘The more you use something, the more you pay’, because I would have thought that is capitalism, in a sense. I would have thought that if we buy a pack of chips, we pay for a pack of chips, or if I pay for my energy bills, it is because I have used more energy. Now, I am all for—obviously, with this government—supporting those who are vulnerable, those who need help. That is the beauty of having general revenue and collected revenue; it lets us help those who need a bit more of a hand. But at the same time, I generally do not have a problem with the fact that if I am driving more on the roads, I pay my way, and we do that right now with the fuel levy. I think when you look at manufacturers and technology companies alike, they are rapidly moving our automotive industry towards an electric future. The horse has bolted. I mean, the UK have already said that by 2030 they are not going to sell any petrol cars. Our car manufacturers worldwide have basically stopped R and D on combustion engines. This, in my opinion, is a done deal. Now, members on the side talked about disincentive, and I spoke to a gentleman from my electorate only yesterday when I was doorknocking—Kev—and Kevin had the same question. He said he was concerned about the disincentive, and I get that, because with any increase in charge, it is a logical argument to come back. But that is why we have put in $100 million worth of incentives for the much smaller amount of revenue that we are receiving. This is a structural change. This is a change that Victorians in general, yes, will pay for, but will also get the benefit of. At the moment we pay and we do not get the benefit—not fully. We must decide as a country also what role we want to play with electric vehicles on our roads. It is not just up to state governments, of which there are a number who are in the transition to the very thing we are talking about today—and New Zealand was mentioned as doing the same thing—we also need our federal government to work on incentives just like we are with our rebates. Maybe they could match our rebates; that would be a good thing. Now, we are committed to a long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as we talked about on the weekend—the fantastic announcement that was from the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change—and reaching this target requires a transition of our vehicle fleet to zero-emission vehicles. So we are already committed. We are committed to incentivising this transition. I think it was the member for Prahran who stood up and talked about wanting us to transition but then seemed to have a problem that we were starting to change over to EVs. I would have thought that is exactly what transition is, so we might need to check the dictionary on that one. The $100 million package that I mentioned also includes a $46 million subsidy program to encourage motorists and businesses to make their next vehicle zero emission, with low- or medium-priced vehicles to be a target of the program. Twenty thousand subsidies are more than triple the size of the current zero-emission vehicle fleet in Victoria, with 6000 or thereabouts sold at the moment. Now, these subsidies will increase the supply and range of vehicles available—it makes sense; at the moment one of the problems with the zero-emissions cars is that they are quite pricey, at least a lot of them are. But as more people change over, more people are looking at getting their subsidies of in the vicinity of $3000-odd and the money that you save by moving to a zero-emissions vehicle on top of that. We are talking about the levy today, the federal fuel levy. The fuel levy makes up a small part of the amount when you put petrol into your car at the pump. When you are paying $1.50, there is a lot of petrol in that price and there is a lot of mark-up for the petrol station, whereas if you are lucky enough to have solar panels at home—and I have not got them yet, but I am hoping to do that soon—you can charge your zero-emission vehicle at home so you are getting renewable energy. As we move even closer and closer to the targets that we are going to have by 2030, we will have renewable energy charging the cars on the roads for a much lower output from each person with a car. The subsidy program, as I said, will provide for 20 000 eligible vehicles, the first stage being 4000 allotments of $3000. Now, you cannot tell me that that is not an incentive. I mean, we do this in other areas. We do this in the housing market with first home buyers, and we know that has an incentive quality. We know that that affects the housing market. We know that that means for new home owners it is just a little bit easier to get in. That is what we are doing: we are making it a little bit easier. Yes, there are some structural changes, and yes, there is a charge, but responsible government is about looking to the future as well. It is about looking at how we pay for our roads, our hospitals and our infrastructure. Of the money that we bring in at the moment, as we have said, tenfold is going out to encourage zero-emission vehicles. This is a responsible bill, this is a good bill and I commend it to the house.

 

2021 Autumn Edition – Waverley Community News

2021 Autumn Edition - Waverley Community News 

Adjournment – Online gaming regulation

https://youtu.be/nlMyDQNjUKM Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:03): My adjournment item this evening is to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. The action I seek is for the minister to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government can raise awareness of gambling-like gaming which is available to our children and young adults. Yesterday in the house I raised the issue of loot boxes and my concerns around their gambling-like design and the overall lack of regulation and consumer protections across the video and online gaming industry. Particularly concerning is the ability of children or those under 18 to access these games without restrictions, classifications or warnings that might let parents know what is in them despite mounting concern that the mechanics of loot boxes are encouraging gambling-style behaviour among kids, potentially leading them to addiction later in life. There is compelling data showing that when you expose children to gambling tendencies they can develop gambling problems as adults. To put this in perspective I would like to provide some statistics to give indication as to the reach and scope of this issue. In 2020, 91 per cent of Australian households owned a video game device and 81 per cent of children aged between five and 14 years played video games. Australians are among the highest per capita spenders on video games in the world, with the total gaming and eSports revenue hitting $3.175 billion in 2019 and $3.403 billion in 2020. The in-game digital purchase segment grew a staggering 190 per cent year on year. As I mentioned yesterday, over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are investigating and regulating loot boxes. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Yet in Australia there is zero regulation and federal classification does not do anything about them. The industry has failed to sufficiently and efficiently self-regulate by implementing ethical game design principles. Whilst jurisdiction falls largely in the federal sphere, at a state government level surely we can raise awareness and look into steps to safeguard our Victorian children from being exposed to this potentially harmful virtual content. I look forward to the minister’s response on this very important issue.

Adjournment – Online gaming regulation

https://youtu.be/nlMyDQNjUKM Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (17:03): My adjournment item this evening is to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. The action I seek is for the minister to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government can raise awareness of gambling-like gaming which is available to our children and young adults. Yesterday in the house I raised the issue of loot boxes and my concerns around their gambling-like design and the overall lack of regulation and consumer protections across the video and online gaming industry. Particularly concerning is the ability of children or those under 18 to access these games without restrictions, classifications or warnings that might let parents know what is in them despite mounting concern that the mechanics of loot boxes are encouraging gambling-style behaviour among kids, potentially leading them to addiction later in life. There is compelling data showing that when you expose children to gambling tendencies they can develop gambling problems as adults. To put this in perspective I would like to provide some statistics to give indication as to the reach and scope of this issue. In 2020, 91 per cent of Australian households owned a video game device and 81 per cent of children aged between five and 14 years played video games. Australians are among the highest per capita spenders on video games in the world, with the total gaming and eSports revenue hitting $3.175 billion in 2019 and $3.403 billion in 2020. The in-game digital purchase segment grew a staggering 190 per cent year on year. As I mentioned yesterday, over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are investigating and regulating loot boxes. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Yet in Australia there is zero regulation and federal classification does not do anything about them. The industry has failed to sufficiently and efficiently self-regulate by implementing ethical game design principles. Whilst jurisdiction falls largely in the federal sphere, at a state government level surely we can raise awareness and look into steps to safeguard our Victorian children from being exposed to this potentially harmful virtual content. I look forward to the minister’s response on this very important issue.

Second Reading-WORKPLACE INJURY REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION AMENDMENT (ARBITRATION) BILL 2021

https://youtu.be/VUNHAFVpUiU Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (18:24): I also rise to speak on the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Arbitration) Bill 2021 and to share my voice—along with all my colleagues definitely and hopefully those on the other side, who I do not believe are opposing this bill, which is good news—about the importance of workplace safety for all workers and also for employees who usually work in their own businesses. So this is for everybody but obviously we are talking about workers. I thank the Minister for Workplace Safety for her considerable work on this, and the Attorney-General and also our former fantastic Attorney-General, who is sitting here as well, for their considerable work.   Ms Hennessy interjected.   Mr FREGON: I will give it a go. Workplace safety is fundamental to a safe community and a thriving economy and fundamental to this government and the Labor Party that I am a proud member of. The changes in where and how we work continue to create new challenges for us all and for the safety of us at work. It was only yesterday in the house when I was speaking on the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 that I was talking about the gig economy and our delivery drivers who are now employed via devices. What we see with that is an increasing pressure on those drivers to do more and more work in shorter and shorter time spans, and of course that decreases safety. That pushes those workers to try and earn that little bit more by getting the job done quicker. Some of those employers—and I will call them employers, because that is effectively what they are—take that to levels where if you are not quite quick enough, they throw you off the system.   I was very happy, as I said yesterday, to see HungryPanda actually reinstate two workers who were going to take it to litigation. I am glad that was sorted, but this is thin edge of the wedge stuff and it is something that I am definitely keeping my eyes on. I know that we will continue to work for the benefit of all workers, including those in the gig economy.   In 2019 I was happy when our government altered the way that we record workplace fatalities on the road. On 1 July we will start to count those transport workers who unfortunately perish on our roads as workplace fatalities. I think that is an important step forward, to really understand, because the roads are a workplace. I congratulate my good friends down at the Transport Workers Union and John Berger and his team again for their good work doing that, and obviously the Premier and the whole Andrews government for understanding and doing the work to benefit all Victorians at work.   Injuries in the workplace can have devastating consequences for workers. In this case we are talking about the arbitration scheme that we are putting in with this bill. Arbitration is obviously a much easier way to process matters through the justice system, when possible. It is not always possible, and there are still mechanisms for taking things further, should that be required. There are limited appeal processes as well, even if you go through arbitration, if it is a rule of law matter.   This is a good step, because far too often people who have deep pockets take advantage of our legal system for as long as they want to—and good on them; well done—but those whose pockets do not go quite so deep find it very tough to get their justice. The more we can do to level that playing field I am all for, and this arbitration process that we are talking about today is one way of making sure that that access to justice for people is fair.   As a proud member of a Labor government it would be remiss of me not to go back to our legacy of Labor governments in this state. Obviously we said goodbye to former Premier John Cain only recently. In 1985, under his leadership, it was a Victorian Labor government which established the Transport Accident Commission but also WorkCare, obviously the forerunner of WorkSafe as we know it today. So they were reforming governments all the way back then. It is important for us to also realise that these changes take time to really gel themselves in the culture of our state. In 1985 you might start a reform process, but when we are sitting here, 36 years later, we have a culture in workplaces now where we know that WorkSafe is there. We know if people see things that are unsafe they are inclined to talk to their unions, their bosses. They are inclined to, if they need to, call WorkSafe and notify them of things going wrong.   I remember back in 1991 I did a summer in a warehouse running cables locally. It was just a summer job and we earned bit of money, but we had a lot of very large cables in this warehouse and by the end of the summer I was driving a forklift around. I did not have a forklift licence. I do not think anyone in the store had a forklift licence. Now, I would hope that that sort of thing no longer happens. I hope the statute of limitations has run out on not having a fork lift licence too, by the way, because I have just owned up to that one. But those things used to happen everywhere. You know, if you got a job as a young person, you would go there and the bosses—and they were good bosses; it was a good place to work—would say, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll be right. You’ll be fine. No worries, mate. There you go’. We have seen what happens when it is not fine. We have seen what happens when it goes wrong. Now, luckily nothing went wrong then and no-one got hurt. I think we all understand that when you set off to work in the morning and you kiss your family goodbye there is an expectation that everybody should be able to come home, and if something goes wrong in that process then it is fair and right that there be some form of compensation.   Workers comp has been around for ages, but the problem if we go back to 1985—I was very young—but my memories are it was just private insurance companies you were dealing with. I do not think all insurance companies are evil. I do not think they are all good. I think they are companies. They do not have a soul; they are just companies. They are there for profit and they are there to do their job, and corporate structures just have processes. Like the member for Frankston mentioned before about some of the emails going backwards and forwards, a few guys get a bit too excited that they have kept the KPIs down for the month and then people get hurt and, again as the member for Frankston said, if you do not actually know the person that you are talking about, it may just not gel that they are real people and they have got families and they are out of work. And as others have said, they want to get back to work. So that process, when an insurance company just does what it does and extends it and extends it—every day that is making one person, one family, one extended family and one community worse off.   So a bill like this enables a process for us to speed that up to make it fairer, and we have very, very talented mediators and arbitrators in this state. I have had conversations with some of those people around meeting rooms at the Victorian Bar, and they are very serious about alternative dispute resolution. It is a really good process, it works a lot of the time and it saves us all. It not only saves time and money for the people who in this case are injured but it also saves time and money for the other side. It will save time and money for the insurance companies because you get together and you work it out. So I think we are doing some very important work here. It continues six, seven and, I think, many more years of very important work that the Andrews Labor government has been doing, and I commend this bill to the house.

Second Reading-WORKPLACE INJURY REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION AMENDMENT (ARBITRATION) BILL 2021

https://youtu.be/VUNHAFVpUiU Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (18:24): I also rise to speak on the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Arbitration) Bill 2021 and to share my voice—along with all my colleagues definitely and hopefully those on the other side, who I do not believe are opposing this bill, which is good news—about the importance of workplace safety for all workers and also for employees who usually work in their own businesses. So this is for everybody but obviously we are talking about workers. I thank the Minister for Workplace Safety for her considerable work on this, and the Attorney-General and also our former fantastic Attorney-General, who is sitting here as well, for their considerable work.   Ms Hennessy interjected.   Mr FREGON: I will give it a go. Workplace safety is fundamental to a safe community and a thriving economy and fundamental to this government and the Labor Party that I am a proud member of. The changes in where and how we work continue to create new challenges for us all and for the safety of us at work. It was only yesterday in the house when I was speaking on the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 that I was talking about the gig economy and our delivery drivers who are now employed via devices. What we see with that is an increasing pressure on those drivers to do more and more work in shorter and shorter time spans, and of course that decreases safety. That pushes those workers to try and earn that little bit more by getting the job done quicker. Some of those employers—and I will call them employers, because that is effectively what they are—take that to levels where if you are not quite quick enough, they throw you off the system.   I was very happy, as I said yesterday, to see HungryPanda actually reinstate two workers who were going to take it to litigation. I am glad that was sorted, but this is thin edge of the wedge stuff and it is something that I am definitely keeping my eyes on. I know that we will continue to work for the benefit of all workers, including those in the gig economy.   In 2019 I was happy when our government altered the way that we record workplace fatalities on the road. On 1 July we will start to count those transport workers who unfortunately perish on our roads as workplace fatalities. I think that is an important step forward, to really understand, because the roads are a workplace. I congratulate my good friends down at the Transport Workers Union and John Berger and his team again for their good work doing that, and obviously the Premier and the whole Andrews government for understanding and doing the work to benefit all Victorians at work.   Injuries in the workplace can have devastating consequences for workers. In this case we are talking about the arbitration scheme that we are putting in with this bill. Arbitration is obviously a much easier way to process matters through the justice system, when possible. It is not always possible, and there are still mechanisms for taking things further, should that be required. There are limited appeal processes as well, even if you go through arbitration, if it is a rule of law matter.   This is a good step, because far too often people who have deep pockets take advantage of our legal system for as long as they want to—and good on them; well done—but those whose pockets do not go quite so deep find it very tough to get their justice. The more we can do to level that playing field I am all for, and this arbitration process that we are talking about today is one way of making sure that that access to justice for people is fair.   As a proud member of a Labor government it would be remiss of me not to go back to our legacy of Labor governments in this state. Obviously we said goodbye to former Premier John Cain only recently. In 1985, under his leadership, it was a Victorian Labor government which established the Transport Accident Commission but also WorkCare, obviously the forerunner of WorkSafe as we know it today. So they were reforming governments all the way back then. It is important for us to also realise that these changes take time to really gel themselves in the culture of our state. In 1985 you might start a reform process, but when we are sitting here, 36 years later, we have a culture in workplaces now where we know that WorkSafe is there. We know if people see things that are unsafe they are inclined to talk to their unions, their bosses. They are inclined to, if they need to, call WorkSafe and notify them of things going wrong.   I remember back in 1991 I did a summer in a warehouse running cables locally. It was just a summer job and we earned bit of money, but we had a lot of very large cables in this warehouse and by the end of the summer I was driving a forklift around. I did not have a forklift licence. I do not think anyone in the store had a forklift licence. Now, I would hope that that sort of thing no longer happens. I hope the statute of limitations has run out on not having a fork lift licence too, by the way, because I have just owned up to that one. But those things used to happen everywhere. You know, if you got a job as a young person, you would go there and the bosses—and they were good bosses; it was a good place to work—would say, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll be right. You’ll be fine. No worries, mate. There you go’. We have seen what happens when it is not fine. We have seen what happens when it goes wrong. Now, luckily nothing went wrong then and no-one got hurt. I think we all understand that when you set off to work in the morning and you kiss your family goodbye there is an expectation that everybody should be able to come home, and if something goes wrong in that process then it is fair and right that there be some form of compensation.   Workers comp has been around for ages, but the problem if we go back to 1985—I was very young—but my memories are it was just private insurance companies you were dealing with. I do not think all insurance companies are evil. I do not think they are all good. I think they are companies. They do not have a soul; they are just companies. They are there for profit and they are there to do their job, and corporate structures just have processes. Like the member for Frankston mentioned before about some of the emails going backwards and forwards, a few guys get a bit too excited that they have kept the KPIs down for the month and then people get hurt and, again as the member for Frankston said, if you do not actually know the person that you are talking about, it may just not gel that they are real people and they have got families and they are out of work. And as others have said, they want to get back to work. So that process, when an insurance company just does what it does and extends it and extends it—every day that is making one person, one family, one extended family and one community worse off.   So a bill like this enables a process for us to speed that up to make it fairer, and we have very, very talented mediators and arbitrators in this state. I have had conversations with some of those people around meeting rooms at the Victorian Bar, and they are very serious about alternative dispute resolution. It is a really good process, it works a lot of the time and it saves us all. It not only saves time and money for the people who in this case are injured but it also saves time and money for the other side. It will save time and money for the insurance companies because you get together and you work it out. So I think we are doing some very important work here. It continues six, seven and, I think, many more years of very important work that the Andrews Labor government has been doing, and I commend this bill to the house.

MEMBERS STATEMENT – ONLINE GAMING REGULATION

  https://youtu.be/Brxaw-ZnSgs Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (09:45): I rise to highlight a little-known aspect of gaming—computer gaming, that is. Loot boxes, as they are called, are a collection of virtual items which may or may not assist with gameplay for players. Some games like FIFA, for example, offer loot boxes which will directly have effects on your gaming ability in online play with your peers. Other games like, say, Overwatch have loot boxes which offer cosmetic advantages. Either way this increases your standing as a gamer among your peers. My concern with loot boxes is the random nature of rewards and the ability of children at any age now to basically spin the wheel by paying real-world dollars. In my opinion this is effectively gambling.   Loot boxes offer a gamer random rewards or rewards that are of differing values. In most games you can purchase them over and over again if you have the money. I believe that we should be raising awareness with parents about the potential activities of their kids. Over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are hastily investigating regulating loot boxes, but so far this country is not. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Here in Australia the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee of the commonwealth Parliament as recently as 2018 conducted an inquiry into the extent to which gaming and microtransactions for chance-based items may be harmful, but at this stage they are relying on classifications. These games are still G-rated. In only the last few weeks FIFA have introduced self-regulation. It is not enough.

MEMBERS STATEMENT – ONLINE GAMING REGULATION

  https://youtu.be/Brxaw-ZnSgs Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (09:45): I rise to highlight a little-known aspect of gaming—computer gaming, that is. Loot boxes, as they are called, are a collection of virtual items which may or may not assist with gameplay for players. Some games like FIFA, for example, offer loot boxes which will directly have effects on your gaming ability in online play with your peers. Other games like, say, Overwatch have loot boxes which offer cosmetic advantages. Either way this increases your standing as a gamer among your peers. My concern with loot boxes is the random nature of rewards and the ability of children at any age now to basically spin the wheel by paying real-world dollars. In my opinion this is effectively gambling.   Loot boxes offer a gamer random rewards or rewards that are of differing values. In most games you can purchase them over and over again if you have the money. I believe that we should be raising awareness with parents about the potential activities of their kids. Over a dozen industrialised countries around the world are hastily investigating regulating loot boxes, but so far this country is not. The Netherlands and Belgium have banned them entirely because of their gambling-like design. Here in Australia the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee of the commonwealth Parliament as recently as 2018 conducted an inquiry into the extent to which gaming and microtransactions for chance-based items may be harmful, but at this stage they are relying on classifications. These games are still G-rated. In only the last few weeks FIFA have introduced self-regulation. It is not enough.