Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . .
MR SMYTH: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, I refer to claims made by Mr Richard Farmer in the Canberra Times of 7 March 2016. Mr Farmer claims that your chief of staff had suggested increasing the cap on poker machines in the ACT by 500 machines to allow the casino to have poker machines. This was said in a meeting between Mr Farmer and your chief of staff. Chief Minister, did your chief of staff suggest increasing the cap on poker machines to allow the casino to have machines? If not, what did your chief of staff tell Mr Farmer in this conversation?
MR BARR: No, my chief of staff did not make that statement. Mr Farmer is lying. In relation to the government's position on poker machines, we support a reduction.
MADAM SPEAKER: Could I just draw members' attention to the general provisions of the standing orders, before I call Mr Smyth, and remind people that when they are speaking of named members of the public who do not have recourse to correcting the record they should be careful of the language they use. It is a general rule in this place, general form, that we tend, as much as possible, to avoid naming members of the public. When it is unavoidable, I think it is also incumbent upon us to be careful with the language that we use. Supplementary question, Mr Smyth.
MR SMYTH: Chief Minister, why is the government's consideration of this proposal being conducted in secrecy so that the community does not know what is going on?
MR BARR: It is not, Madam Speaker. It is obviously a very public process. It has been on the front page of the newspaper on many occasions.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Coe.
MR COE: Chief Minister, will you categorically rule out increasing the cap on poker machines?
MR BARR: Yes, Madam Speaker. I categorically rule out there being more poker machines in the ACT. The government's objective is to reduce the number of poker machines.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.
MR COE: Chief Minister, why are you handling this matter rather than the Minister for Racing and Gaming?
MR BARR: It is an unsolicited proposal to government and, as head of the government, I have responsibility for matters relating to unsolicited proposals through those guidelines that fall within my portfolio responsibilities.
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