Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 18 November 2010) . . Page.. 5672 ..
Party membership forms and an application to join the Labor club to year 8, 9 and 10 students. According to the ministerial code of conduct:
Ministers will uphold the laws of the Australian Capital Territory and Australia, and will not be a party to their breach, evasion, or subversion.
Part 1.4 of the Gambling and Racing Commission’s code of practice stipulates:
The licensee of a gambling facility must not publish advertising that—
… encourages people under 18 years old to gamble, or targets them;
Minister, why did you commit an act that would likely be a breach of the law were it done by the venue themselves, and how do you reconcile your act with your obligations under the ministerial code of conduct?
MS BURCH: I thank Mr Seselja for his question. This incident happened two months ago. I did attend Campbell high with other members here. As part of that I asked my staff to prepare some material on the Assembly here, its members and its parliamentary process. Unfortunately, there were other materials provided, and I was not aware of that and I apologise because that other material was, indeed, inappropriate. I apologise absolutely to the school, to the teachers and to the families for any distress caused.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary?
MR SESELJA: Thank you. Minister, the form you handed out to year 8 kids asks them if they are interested in poker machines, ACTAB, Keno or bingo. Were you not therefore promoting gambling to minors, something that if done by a club would be a breach of the law?
MS BURCH: Again, Mr Speaker, I have just said that I have apologised. I was not aware of the material that was in the bag. I apologise.
Opposition members interjecting—
MR SPEAKER: One moment, Ms Burch. Members, if we are going to ask the question let us at least give the minister a chance to answer it. That took less than 10 seconds for the chorus of interventions to start. That is not acceptable. Minister Burch.
MS BURCH: I accept responsibility for that. It ultimately rests with me to check each and every piece of material that goes out under my name. I erred. I did not do that level of checking. Again, I am here as a result of that error in judgement.
MR COE: A supplementary, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Coe.
MR COE: Minister, were you aware of the requirements of the gambling and racing code of conduct when you distributed the Labor Club membership forms to young students in the ACT public school system?