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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2671..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

I am one of those older people. I play lawn bowls. That is, I used to; I have not played for a while. Most of the bowling clubs in the ACT are struggling now. Without clubs there would be no lawn bowls for people to play. That would be the case. Without some of the clubs there would be no ballroom dancing at the Southern Cross and none of the various activities or venues, such as Probus clubs and Rotary clubs, to meet at. The physical infrastructure the clubs provide allow for the next layer of community activity to be facilitated.

There is a great need for a balanced approach to the operation and survival of the club industry. It is going to go through a difficult phase as we impose smoking bans in the near future. I am confident that the club industry in the main will survive that change, and that change is necessary for public health. We recognise that there is a phenomenon called "problem gambling". We do not believe that total prohibition is the answer to problem gambling; we do not believe that total prohibition is the answer to much in society.

It is an odd juxtaposition that parties such as the Greens and the Democrats who claim to be progressive are the parties that would involve themselves in the highest degree of prohibition in relation to an activity that involves so many people of our community and provides so many people of our community with a social outlet-a relatively safe place in which to have a few drinks, to socialise and maybe have a flutter on the pokies.

We recognise that problem gambling does beset some people. As I said, I do not believe prohibition is the answer to that. The ACT itself has been recognised as being the jurisdiction in Australia with the most rigid code of practice, and after this legislation, I am sure we will have the most rigid framework of legislation. I will not guarantee that, but I am fairly certain that is the case. The code of practice has been recognised by bodies outside of this government-the Productivity Commission, the Brotherhood of St Laurence-as being the most progressive of codes of practice. I congratulate the club industry on the way it has responded over time and will, I expect, continue to respond.

There are some restrictions involved in this legislation, but I am confident that this will not be the end of the debate or the end of the evolution of how we manage gambling. But for God's sake let's not head towards the prohibitionist solution. Let's work towards education and the management of a problem because I believe that will be more successful in the longer term. I would hazard a guess to say that what total prohibition will do is stop everybody but problem gamblers from gambling.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 8, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 9.

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