Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 5979 ..
advise not just the commission but the minister so that we actually do make decisions based on fact rather than perception, prejudice or simply being uninformed.
I have spoken to the kinds of people, outlined in the amendment which comes a bit later, who might form a gaming advisory board. They are all very happy to participate because many of them feel that they are not consulted enough, that they are not being heard, that in fact in many ways they are vilified when their sector of the industry is probably doing more than clearly what the government, the Greens and indeed the community know they are doing. They do not get the recognition. They are not heard. The implications of what might occur to them are not being thought through before legislation is passed and they would simply like the opportunity, on a regular basis, to be able to advise the commission and the government on what has happened.
I do not think this is an unreasonable amendment and I would ask that members consider passing the amendment; otherwise it simply sends the wrong message that a great big tax is how you fix this, that just another tax on the industry is the way to fix it. It is not the way to fix anything at all. If it was a question of resources, the government have the resources. They simply choose not to spend them in this area. They took $33 million from gaming machines last year. They take money from ACTTAB. They get money from the casino. They get money from online wagering. They get money from the racing industry. They choose simply not to spend it. That is a government priority and the government needs to be held to account for that.
This is a reasonable amendment. The commission should consult with the industry and those who look after problem gamblers, represented by the peak body, before any of these funds are disbursed.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Gaming and Racing) (4.16): I will speak to all of Mr Smyth’s amendments at this point. The government will not be supporting any of these amendments. Obviously, the particular amendment, amendment No 2, seeks to set a different rate for the problem gambling assistance levy. The Assembly has already dealt with my amendment in relation to that. So it is somewhat redundant.
The remaining amendments go to Mr Smyth’s desire to establish a gaming advisory board to advise the minister on matters relating to gaming and racing. In the government’s view, this is in excess of what is required to implement a problem gambling program. The industry already has access to government and the commission to voice its views on a range of industry matters and we do not need, through this bill, to establish or to institutionalise a new body.
The advisory board is very large and the coverage, for the purpose of the gambling assistance fund, is too broad and unnecessary. In the government’s view, it would be more appropriate for the commission to consult and inform itself as it sees fit rather than have a mandatory committee that may have no interest in the activities, particularly online wagering operators, or, worse perhaps, a conflict of interest in relation to the allocation of the funds.