Super Rugby final unlikely to be declared 'national event' to crack down on scalpers

Minister for Economic Development, Steven Joyce says the Rugby Union has not applied for the final to be a national ...
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Minister for Economic Development, Steven Joyce says the Rugby Union has not applied for the final to be a national event, but the category was usually reserved for events like the Rugby World Cup final

The Government says it can't do anything about Super Rugby final scalpers, but Labour says it can and should.

Special scalping laws to cover the Super Rugby Final are unlikely to be rushed through, and it is unlikely to be declared a national event.

Currently, only events declared a "national event" by Cabinet are covered by scalping legislation.

Prime Minister John Key and Sports and Recreation Minister  Jonathan Coleman say it may be possible to declare the Super ...
Phil Reid

Prime Minister John Key and Sports and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman say it may be possible to declare the Super Rugby Final a national event, but it was unlikely to fit the criteria

There had been no application by the Rugby Union to declare the match a major event and it probably wouldn't fit the definition anyway, Economic Development Minister Joyce said.

But Labour leader Andrew Little said the final, particularly in light of two Kiwi teams being involved, should be declared an event under the major events legislation to stop ticket scalping.

Joyce's comments come after thousands of fans missed out on tickets to the all-New Zealand match between The Hurricanes and the Highlanders, only to see tickets show up on Trade Me selling for more than $300.

Labour leader Andrew Little says the Government needs to act, to stop scalpers looking to cash in on the Super Rugby Final.

Labour leader Andrew Little says the Government needs to act, to stop scalpers looking to cash in on the Super Rugby Final.

"A major international event by definition is something like the Rugby World Cup," Joyce said.

He was reluctant, meanwhile, for the Government to step in with "heavy handed" legislation.

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The Hurricanes' Julian Savea in action at the Cake Tin.
PHOTOSPORT

The Hurricanes' Julian Savea in action at the Cake Tin.

The onus should instead be on promoters to ensure they looked after their fans through measures like staggering ticket releases.

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When tickets sold out in a matter of seconds it "probably doesn't leave a good taste" in fans mouths and was not good for the game, said Joyce. 

"Probably what should happen is promoters need to catch up with the challenges of selling on line. There are plenty of examples of staggered releases and so on to make sure their public get a chance to participate in the event.

"To be fair to them maybe it took them by surprise, though I can't think why it would have, the first all New Zealand final since 2006 - I think it was pretty exciting but that's something they will have to think about," he said.

Scalpers should also think carefully about the impact of their actions because they were not helping the sport.

Sports and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman said he did not support scalping, but doubted whether the Government could intervene. 

"It shouldn't be happening, so I'm not in favour of it at all. 

"But I'll have to go and check what levers we've got around that."

Asked if he could declare the event a national event - which would make scalping illegal - Coleman said he was unsure whether the final would fit the criteria.

"Obviously the Super Rugby Final is a one-off event, it's a great event, it's not something that was necessarily anticipated until a couple of weeks ago, so we will have to look at that." 

Coleman said he was unable to attend the match, due to prior commitments, meanwhile Prime Minister John Key was still trying to move his schedule around to attend. 

Key said the practise of scalping was "wrong", but he had received no advice around making the final a national event.

It was "possible" but he hoped commonsense would prevail.  

"The gesture, from what I can see from the Hurricanes, was to make sure tickets were priced fairly and so it would be a great tragedy and actually quite wrong for people just to go an buy them on the basis they've been sold as affordable so families can go, and then just just to go an put them on Trademe for $700."

Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith said there were no laws against the practice - it was the free market at work.

"I think we've got simple rules in place around fair trading and people being able to not profit from those sorts of things unreasonably, but it's a free market."

Little wants to see action taken against scalpers in light of the huge price hike on Super 15 tickets online.

"I think anytime the Hurricanes appear in the final of the Super 15 the event ought to be declared an event of national significance - probably international significance actually."

Labour's  associate spokeswoman for sports Louisa Wall said that was not good enough, and it meant people who worked hard and wanted to support their team were denied access. 

Wall said it was a shame, as Kiwis wanted to get in behind the two New Zealand teams in the final. 

The final was a major event, and the omission of it from the legislation preventing ticket scalping was wrong. 

"That means we obviously need to look at the law...it should classify."

 - Stuff

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