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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 167..

Wednesday, 11 February 2004

The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2004 (No 2)

Mr Stefaniak, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by clerk.

MR STEFANIAK (10.31): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, let me start by thanking the parliamentary counsel for their efforts. I was hoping in about December of last year, as indeed were all the players in the industry, that the full government bill of reforms in the gaming industry would be ready by February. That was the initial indication when the government introduced its response to the report of the Gambling and Racing Commission. Unfortunately, that does not look like happening. In fact, we now hear that the government's bill will not be ready until May. I think that is somewhat quite unfortunate because the industry needs certainty. Indeed, it already has to cope with the new smoking legislation.

There are a lot of pressures on this very important industry that employs thousands of Canberrans. Many young Canberrans get their first start in employment in the industry. It is an industry also that provides a lot of entertainment at good, cheap rates for ordinary Canberra citizens. It is an industry which makes an essential contribution to tourism and employment. The industry is concerned with the very fabric of our society. Clubs, hotels and taverns all give us a sense of community and all make great contributions to various community services and sporting services in the territory, and it would be far less a community if we did not have these institutions. It is unfortunate in a way that we do have gaming machines, but that is a fact of life and it is essential that fairness applies.

The government has introduced its own bill. I could say they have done so because they do not want to be gazumped by the opposition. There might be something in that. I am, however, pleased to see what is in the government's bill. I am pleased to see reference to class B machines.

My bill does two things. Firstly, it amends the Gaming Machine Act. Because the government introduced its bill yesterday, my bill is named the Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2004 (No 2), and that is fine. The provisions of the bill are to commence on the day after its notification day and the bill amends, of course, the principal act of 1987.

Clause 4 of my bill, which substitutes new sections 18 (2) and 18 (3) and adds a couple of other subsections, enables hotels and taverns to access class B machines. It is quite

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