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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3715 ..

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.59): The opposition will be supporting this bill. I thank the Treasurer for providing my office with a detailed briefing on the bill and I also want to commend the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission for the explanatory statement. It is a pleasure to read a statement that actually explains the rationale for changes proposed in the bill instead of simply listing the changes but not providing any explanation.

The purposes of this bill are to facilitate the management of the cap on gaming machines, especially in circumstances where an existing licensee either hands back some machines or ceases to be a licensee; to provide an increased incentive for licensees to provide funds to respond to the issues related to problem gambling; to ensure that people applying to work as technicians and in other capacities in the gaming industry are suitably qualified; to provide the commission with appropriate authority to take action against people who do not satisfy the criteria necessary to apply for a licence or to work in specialised positions within the industry; and to clarify and simplify the provisions relating to the advertising of premises where gambling takes place with gaming machines.

These amendments are relatively minor and essentially are technical amendments to the Gaming Machine Act. Nevertheless, these amendments will enable the gambling and racing commission to operate their supervision of gaming machine activities more effectively than currently exists. This bill will provide the commission with greater flexibility in managing gaming machines in situations where some machines are handed back to the commission or where a licensee hands back a licence to operate gaming machines.

Essentially what this means is that, if a person applies for some or for additional gaming machines, the commission will now be able to assess the merits of applicants as a first stage process and then at a later point when gaming machines become available the commission will be able to determine the allocation of those machines. This will permit the commission to follow this process in an orderly and equitable manner. The bill will implement an incentive arrangement to encourage gaming machine licensees to increase funding to provide for a response to problem gamblers. This comprises an incentive arrangement whereby a donation of $3 to deal with problem gamblers will result in a licensee being able to claim $4 as their annual community contribution.

The commission will now be able to ensure that people seeking to apply for a licence or to work in specialist positions in the industry are of good character. Where people are determined by the commission not to be suitable they will be prohibited from applying for a licence or from working in this industry for at least 12 months. And the Chief Minister, when he speaks to close the bill, might tell us how that will be achieved. What are the criteria that would determine that somebody is unsuitable and how will that decision be made?

This bill makes the provisions relating to the advertising of gaming premises less onerous. A provision whereby a licensee might have “caused” an external advertising

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