Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 78..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
types of people have been associated with these activities. I said earlier that it is terribly important for the casino to ensure, as much as possible, that it is squeaky clean, that the right types of eligible people are employed and involved, and that probity and the proper checks and balances are there to ensure that that occurs.
I am also aware-and Mr Quinlan mentioned-that the five-year period is a minimum period and that regard can be had, if need be, to someone who has convictions past that five-year period. I accept that point as it is a sensible one. It would certainly go towards ensuring that probity is applied. It is crucially important that a proper minimum period is included to ensure that the right individuals are hired. We do not want someone who might well be a problem to be employed by a casino. Five years is far too short a period when we are dealing with people we do not want involved in a casino; that is, people who have been involved in fraud or dishonesty, people who have committed offences against a law about gaming, and people who have been convicted of indictable offences-effectively, anything that carries more than one year's imprisonment in any Australian jurisdiction or indeed overseas.
Referring to people who might well have been bankrupt in the past, we need a reasonable period before that requirement is mandated. I submit to this Assembly that 10 years is a reasonable period. I know that government members will vote against these amendments but we need to ensure that proper checks and safeguards are included in this legislation especially, and crucially, when it comes to ensuring an individual is an eligible person.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.20): I want to make some comments on this aspect of Mr Stefaniak's amendments because it is an important one. In my previous life, one of the areas in which I worked was in background checking of employees and those who go into restricted areas at airports. There are some parallels with those schemes. The commonwealth also had a scheme. If a person committed certain offences-and there was a long list of the types of offences; a bit longer than the list in this legislation-and he or she had been convicted of those types of offences there would be a seven-year period within which he or she could not work at an airport.
The commonwealth saw that there were lots of problems with that scheme and eventually amended it to the extent that it mirrored the spent convictions scheme. The Treasurer made the point that the spent convictions scheme does not apply to the casino. That simply means that the casino, as an employer, can take into account spent convictions that otherwise would not have been able to be taken into account. However, that scheme does not ensure that undesirable people who have committed serious offences are precluded from working at casinos, from having a casino licence or from being an owner of a casino. That is an important distinction to make, which is why this is a good amendment.
Whilst this provision does not mirror the spent convictions scheme at this point, it is something that should certainly be considered in the future. But extending this provision to 10 years is a good start. This provision is particularly important. Mr Stefaniak has already referred to the reputation of some casinos around the world. Not all casinos are tarred with the same brush, but we hope most casino operators operate in a scrupulous manner and that they have no criminal links. The experience around the world has been that that does happen and that is one of the reasons why we have laws like these.