4 December 2017
Transcript - #2017065, 2017

Interview with Peter Bell, ABC Radio Perth

PETER BELL:

Michael McCormack is the Minister for Small Business, welcome to ABC Radio Perth, Michael.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Thank you, Peter.

PETER BELL:

So, how big a problem is (inaudible) here in Australia, ticket reselling?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well it is a large problem and it's widespread. Australians should be able to purchase tickets at reasonable prices and have fair access to all available seating options without getting ripped off by scalpers or resellers and that's the major concern here.

PETER BELL:

In the reselling practice, what do you think is reasonable as far as a (inaudible) extra that people might want to pay or be legal to pay, do you think?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well many of the states already have legislation which prohibits reselling at prices above 10 per cent the original price and so I would imagine that's a fair mark-up and states do have a lot of the regulation and process in this particular field but little enforcement action has been taken by some of the States and Territories and that's why I commenced action on this issue many months ago and took this matter to the Consumer Affairs Ministers Forum held in Melbourne in August. There is a public consultation process at the moment to combat ticket scalping and people can have their submissions in that particular process which I would urge and encourage.

PETER BELL:

Is that of the issues, though, the lack of uniformity across the different States and Territories?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Look, lack of consistency is one of the issues but it's also the fact that there are ticket reselling sites which actually look like the original seller and that is also an issue and as the Minister in charge of Consumer Affairs, I'm responsible for the Commonwealth position in relation to the changes and changes to Australian Consumer Law and that applies to the market where second-hand tickets are being sold.

PETER BELL:

What's the most common complaint that your office fields, Michael?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well they're being charged exorbitant rates but not only that in some instances, in some instances people are actually purchasing tickets which have already been resold once and then they are arriving at a venue and of course the person who has, you know, first in best dressed, they've got in the turnstiles and of course the ticket's been claimed, the barcode's been scanned and of course they've paid good money and there's no seat available. Now the ACCC has fielded any number of complaints indeed against Viagogo alleging various breaches of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC has received 473 contacts about that particular website this year alone.

PETER BELL:

And you mentioned a lack of enforcement or penalty, so what are the major obstacles there?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well major obstacles there are, I guess, people reporting it, people knowing their rights and, you know, people can go on to the ACCC website and see their particular rights. The other trouble is is that people often then blame not the reseller, they don't actually realise that they're being duped, but they then blame the official sporting body or the particular concert organiser for their woes and, of course, they are woes because they've paid what they thought in good faith good money for a good seat and they've not got that seat and this is a major issue and that is why I would encourage people if they do feel that they're going to be, or they have been, ripped off to visit the ACCC website. I'd also encourage anyone to make a submission to this particular consultation paper and I'd urge them to lodge a submission before the close of that consultation which is on Friday the 15th of December – they can visit treasury.gov.au/consultation. Let us know what you think should be done. Let the government know about your particular experience and we can act, but we need public input.

PETER BELL:

So, if you've ever paid top dollar for a concert only to find out the tickets weren't real or were seated in a section that you didn't purchase there's something you can do to try and change that for next time, my guest this morning is Michael McCormack – he's the Minister for Small Business. What about those scalpers, Michael, who use technology to buy up large amounts of tickets to a concert, now that's a common gripe – you're waiting out online then all of a sudden all of the tickets seems to have gone instantaneously.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well that's why we want to, with this process, with the consultation, is we want to try to get ahead of what's called bots so people who are using technology to purchase large amounts of tickets, as you say, and it is an issue and that's why we need to get the legislation particularly through the Australian Consumer Law, particularly with the collaboration of States and Territories and to see what we can do to get ahead of technology that is taking place where people can't access tickets because they've already been taken up within nanoseconds of tickets being made available online.

PETER BELL:

And I think you've touched on it, Michael, but also – consumer education, what your rights are, what your legal rights are and indeed a better understanding of how these reselling practices actually function.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Look, indeed, and the ACCC has a lot of information on its website about this and of course they are there as an agency which operates to protect consumers and so if people do feel as though they have been ripped off, they do feel they've had a bad experience the ACCC wants to hear from them.

PETER BELL:

Thanks for your time this morning, Michael.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Any time, Peter, no worries at all.