Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 April 2018) . . Page.. 1137 ..
I present a copy of the paper:
Electronic gaming machines in the Territory—Reducing the number—Ministerial statement, 10 April 2018.
That the Assembly take note of the paper.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.50): I am pleased to see further progress on the government’s commitment to reduce the number of poker machines in the ACT down to 4,000 in this term of the Assembly. This is a key parliamentary agreement item which seeks to reduce harm from poker machines here in the territory. As we have said before, Canberra has some of the highest rates of poker machines per capita across all the states and territories. These machines are addictive and they are manipulative, and they are designed that way so that people lose money.
At the last election the Greens committed to reducing the total number of gaming machines in the ACT by 30 per cent over 10 years, and an organised transition down to 4,000 machines is an important part of this process. According to the Gambling and Racing Commission, at 31 January this year there were 4,984 poker machine authorisations in the ACT. So the reduction to 4,000 represents nearly a 20 per cent reduction in the four years of this Assembly term.
Over the past year I and my colleagues in the Greens have been engaging in an important community conversation about the damage that pokies can cause. It is clear that the social licence to profit from gambling harm has expired. We also know that fewer people are choosing to play poker machines as a form of entertainment even though those people who are at risk of problem gambling still make up a disproportionate share of poker machine losses. It is clear that continuing to rely on poker machines for revenue is neither socially nor economically viable for clubs moving forward, and that is why this process is being put in place to support clubs to diversify their revenue streams into other areas.
I welcome the appointment of Mr Neville Stevens by the Attorney-General to undertake an analysis of the current landscape and map out a clear pathway that will get us down to the 4,000 machine benchmark that the government has determined. It will be important that Mr Stevens works in partnership with clubs and with community organisations on the transition. We need to find a solution that will support a strong, sustainable and diverse clubs sector while also reducing the reliance on pokies revenue. There are many people in the community with some great ideas on this, and I look forward to Mr Stevens having those conversations and bringing those ideas back in his report.
At the last election the Greens put forward a transition plan to help clubs diversify into other income streams. There are a number of ways we can support clubs in this transition including by reducing red tape, removing unnecessary fees and costs and incentivising other investments. The Greens want to support clubs with this transition