Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . Search

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2509..


Debate resumed (continuing):

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan) adjourned to a later hour.

Gaming Machine (Allocation) Amendment Bill 2003

Debate resumed from 18 June 2003, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR QUINLAN

(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (5.33): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, it won't come as a surprise that the government will not be supporting this bill. It's been a matter of public debate for some time. Our position and our platform position are fairly clear, and that really swings on the fact that the government believes that poker machines and the proceeds of poker machine operations should remain within the not-for-profit sector. As such, we will not be supporting it.

MS DUNDAS

(5.33): I'm a bit concerned because I think I'm going to take a little more time to say what I need to say than the Treasurer did. But to look at this bill in detail, the Gaming Machine (Allocation) Amendment Bill: it raises a host of issues about regulation and ownership of poker machines in the ACT. The massive growth in poker machine numbers during the 1990s did lead to huge profit increases for ACT clubs which now depend on poker machines for over three-quarters of their revenue.

With rising profits, clubs drastically alter the way they allocate their funds. In addition to cheap food and alcohol, they've moved into huge capital investment projects, both inside and outside the ACT, as well as new commercial ventures such as accommodation, fitness and real estate.

Many ACT businesses have lost income, and some small business owners have lost their livelihoods. This is due to no fault of their own but to the unfair competition which has seen not only poker machines denied to all operators but also clubs enjoying significant taxation advantages.

As the Productivity Commission report on Australia's gambling industry notes:

Large clubs have the appearance of being more like commercial enterprises, with expert commercial management and ambitious expansion plans.

I understand that this distortion in the ACT economy is generated by the restriction of class C poker machines to licensed clubs, and this is the primary reason why Mr Stefaniak has presented this bill to the Assembly. I sympathise with his intentions, since I've spoken to a number of business owners who say they struggle to compete against the expansion of registered clubs into their industries. This problem has been virtually ignored by governments-by this government and by former governments.

We also need to be looking at this issue from the perspective of problem gambling. Much has been made of the fact that class C poker machines are currently restricted to


Next page . . . . Previous page. . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . Search