Photo: RGBStock.com/vierdrie (Jean Scheijen)
Independent senator Nick Xenophon filed a motion in Parliament March 20. He is confident that moves toward legislation will begin within a few months.
In his motion, Xenophon noted, “Legislators aren’t keeping up with technology. Ticket scalpers are no longer the shadowy figures with long overcoats and tickets attached to the inside of their coats saying, ‘Wanna buy a ticket?’”
The issue is covered separately, state by state. South Australia’s maximum fine for scalping is $5,000 but it’s $609 in Queensland. New South Wales bans scalping but only around the Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium and Sydney Olympic Park precinct. Victoria insists resold tickets not be more than face value, but this is restricted to significant "major" sporting events.
Xenaphon has long argued that a national, rather than piecemeal, approach is needed. He had pushed for a Senate inquiry in 2014. A Senate Economics References Committee found that part of the problem was due to primary ticket sellers.
These included changing acts on bills without refunds, sometimes not having enough cash to stage the event, and holding back best tickets for corporate partners and VIP packages. Recommendations by the committee included greater transparency in resales, more education for consumers of their rights and greater monitoring of the latest ticketing software.
But these were not taken up by Parliament. Xenophon believes the issue now has a greater urgency, after inflated prices in the 2017 first-quarter visits by Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses and Justin Bieber.
The latter’s tickets were resold for 514 percent above face value. In an effort to stop the practice, promoters are refusing to honor tickets not bought at primary sites, with victims complaining to the media and authorities.
“Enough people are coming forward, enough people are sick of being ripped off, and enough artists and concert promoters feel that what they are doing is being undermined by scalpers,” he told ABC Radio.
In early March, consumer watch organisation Choice revealed ticket sellers were inflating prices by up to 500 percent. It also dismissed current consumer laws as inconsistent and ineffective.
Its investigation was referred to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). A number of major promoters are believed to be also preparing individual reports to the ACCC.