Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 4 June 2015) . . Page.. 2114 ..
I go to Mr Rattenbury’s speech. He says that the law currently says there should only be 4,000 machines. That is actually not the law. If you had bothered to read section 34A, Mr Rattenbury, you would have seen that it says the intention is to reduce the maximum number to 4,000 machines. It is an intention. We made the comment when this was passed that it was the strangest bit of law ever when we legislated for intention. Now we are about to legislate for whim. This is how the government has treated the club industry. The former minister for gaming has joined us with his intention for 4,000 machines. He did not actually have the courage to say, “We will bring it down to 4,000 machines.” But there is the intention. That is all it is. Now we have a minister who will not tell the industry exactly what time frames this will happen in.
It is just not fair. People cannot plan their businesses. They cannot, therefore, tell their staff long term how many will be needed. A lot of staff are on the floor in clubs, but if the numbers go down, if the patrons go down, if the funds that they have to support community interests therefore go down, then the whole of the community is affected. If the business is affected, the business model goes. The funds they have to give to community groups will diminish. Is that the intention—that the government puts every club, and their patrons and every community organisation funded by a club or assisted by the club, on notice that as a consequence of these two amendments they will have six months notice? That is what you are saying. The clubs will have to look very seriously at how they hoard their resources, because they will have to get ready for a day when a minister, on a whim, just says, “It all changes in six months.”
This amendment should be supported. It is not unreasonable to say that phase 1 will take two years at a minimum and have at least one year’s notice of commencement of phase 2. That is not an unreasonable time frame, members. If you do not have experience in business, go and ask businesses how this sort of arbitrary number will affect their business model and their business outcome. It will change the way they do business because you are not giving them certainty.
MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Racing and Gaming and Minister for the Arts) (5.07): I will not be supporting the amendments presented by Mr Smyth today. I will be moving amendments to Mr Smyth’s first amendment, and I foreshadow moving amendments to his second amendment as well.
The first amendment I am proposing is in response to the club industry’s request for prior notice about the commencement of phase 2, which is part of what Mr Smyth is also proposing. I disagree, however, that the industry needs one year’s notice. It is disproportionate to give one year’s notice when it is certain that phase 2 will commence within three years. This amendment instead proposes six months notice before commencement.
My amendment balances the clubs’ interests with the community’s interests in harm minimisation. As I have indicated to the clubs, while phase 1 provides an opportunity for them to manage their business needs in achieving this reform, I expect to see some real reductions in the number of machines accessible. My amendment omits new