Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 3720..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
should be a review and a rethink around the basis on which poker machines might be transferred between clubs, accepting and acknowledging that the cap has been achieved and will not be extended.
The government is mindful—and Mr Stefaniak spoke on this as well at the conference that he and I attended and we each acknowledged it—that, with a community that is at the moment growing quite rapidly and extending into new greenfields areas within Gungahlin, and we expect by the end of next year for major new town centres to be established in the Molonglo Valley, there is an issue for the club industry and for us as a community to address. There are only three licensed clubs in Gungahlin. Gungahlin has a population approaching 40,000 but will eventually achieve a population of somewhere in the order of 90,000.
Molonglo will over time achieve a population of 70,000. An absolute cap, non-reviewable, would lead to a circumstance where no more licensed clubs could be developed or established in Gungahlin and no licensed club at all could ever be established in Molonglo. That would not be fair and I do not think it would be appropriate. This is an issue that we will in time need to address, and one way of addressing it is through new arrangements that will permit the transfer of poker machines between clubs without exceeding the current or existing cap.
The final point that I will make in relation to these amendments is just to touch on the query that Mr Smyth voiced in relation to eligibility criteria. The new section 20, the provisions around the eligibility of individuals in a range of circumstances, expand only slightly on existing integrity provisions within the gaming and racing legislation to ensure that individuals who have had a licence or approval to be involved in one way or another in the management, installation or provision of poker machines and who have had that licence or approval cancelled cannot, immediately it has been cancelled, reapply.
Essentially, it goes to people who have not been forthright, who have shown a lack of integrity, who have made false or misleading statements or who have provided false or misleading information to the commission in relation to their particular area of association with gaming and racing and poker machines and who should not be allowed to participate within the industry. Disciplinary processes have been established and are a feature of the existing legislation. This is simply to be explicit that the government and the community cannot tolerate the prospect of people lacking integrity or honesty being involved in gambling or in the clubs industry or have any association with poker machines. It is really a provision that seeks to make explicit the need to protect the integrity of the act and of the act's licensing provisions.
I will conclude on that. As I indicated, these are relatively small, minor, technical amendments but they are significant. It is an important area. It is an area that attracts a lot of debate, quite rightly. Gambling and issues around gambling, most particularly problem gambling, are issues of major importance and significance. We need to do everything we can to address those. But in any debate around gambling and poker machines, and even the more difficult, distressing issue of problem gambling, we must always retain some balance around the enormous importance of the club industry to the ACT.