Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (2 March) . . Page.. 587..
Motion ( (continuing):
(No 2)-being called on forthwith and be debated cognately with executive business order of the day No 3, Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2004.
Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2004
Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2004 (No 2)]
MR STEFANIAK (12.04 am): I said quite a bit when I introduced my bill; I will be fairly brief in speaking to the Treasurer's bill. An amendment will be moved as a result of consultation with the Treasurer and government officials. My clause 4 will be put in place of the government's clause 12, and that relates to class B machines.
This bill, the government's bill, does a number of things. First and foremost, though, it does primarily what the opposition bill, which we are debating cognately, does and that is to allow on licence and off licence premises that currently have access to two non-existing class A machines to have access to two class B machines. An on licence premise is basically a tavern, a place that serves liquor but cannot serve takeaway; an off licence is a hotel defined in the act as one that has fewer than 12 rooms for accommodation or has no accommodation at all. In other words, the establishments around town have been entitled to the two non-existent class A machines.
This is a fairly historic moment. This has been a problem that has plagued successive governments for a number of years; it has been with us for about 18 years. I am delighted that a compromise has been reached, that commonsense has prevailed. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Darcy Henry, who is in the gallery and is a very able spokesman for the taverns. I see some other tavern owners and Pam and John up there. I also acknowledge Jim Shonk, president of the licensed clubs, who had a meeting with me and basically thought that this was a very sensible way out of this imbroglio that has plagued this industry for about 18 years. I also thank the gaming officials and the Treasurer for their commonsense approach to this. It is great to see commonsense finally prevail with a way forward. It does not go as far as I would like-I would like them to have access to class C machines-but it is a good compromise and it is something that virtually all the clubs, the taverns and the hotels are comfortable with.
The government's bill also introduces several new provisions, proposed new sections 14AA and 14AB, setting out what steps anyone who wants to get a new licence has to go through. I am assured by the Treasurer and the government officials that these are not onerous and that regulations will be ready soon. When I saw the period of six weeks mentioned, I thought that realistically that might mean eight or 10 weeks or more before anything happens and machines can be issued. But I was told that I was being a bit conservative and that it should be more like six to eight weeks rather than eight to 12, so, hopefully, there is very much a light at the end of the tunnel for the taverns and the small hotels that have been denied equity for many years-in fact nearly two decades.
The bill also continues the government's regime that every $3 paid to women's sport is counted as $4 towards the community contribution. I have some problems with that, but, having talked to officials in the club industry, although there may well be better ways of doing it, they are reasonably comfortable with that and so we are quite happy to support that provision, although I think it is something we will need to monitor to see just how effective it is. To date it does seem to be going reasonably well.