Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2149 ..
MS FOLLETT (continuing):
Mr Speaker, I commend that report to the Assembly and in doing so I would also like to thank the committee's secretary, Mr Bill Symington, for yet another extremely capable job. I think Mr Symington, as not only the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee but also the secretary of the Estimates Committee, has had his capacity for hard work and for good work extremely tested over recent times. On this occasion, as on all other occasions, he has risen to the task in hand. He really is an extraordinary asset to this Assembly. I believe that the way in which he goes about performing quite daunting tasks for the Assembly is truly remarkable.
Debate (on motion by Mrs Carnell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24 October 1995, on motion by Mrs Carnell:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (5.30): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will support this Bill in principle, since it provides a number of reforms relating to poker machines sought by the licensed club industry in the ACT. This continual updating of legislation to keep pace with advancing technology in poker machines, I believe, is an essential step in ensuring that Canberra's local clubs are able to compete with those in New South Wales. All members of the Assembly would be very much aware of what an important industry our licensed clubs industry is in the ACT. It is a large employer, and it is very much a driving force in our local economy. In government we followed the same strategy of trying to keep the legislation in regard to poker machines up to date in order to ensure that our licensed clubs continued to be competitive and to trade profitably.
However, another area of this Bill is consistent with the standards set by this Government since its election to office, and that is breaking election promises and misleading the public. Mrs Carnell, in her speech to launch the ACT Liberals' 1995 election campaign, said:
Under a Liberal Government, no ACT tax or charge will be higher than New South Wales.
Again, in the business and economic development policy, the Liberals promised:
... no ACT taxes and charges will exceed their New South Wales counterparts.
Paragraph 4(d) of this Bill imposes a tax of 23.5 per cent of gross revenue for amounts over $25,000 per month. The New South Wales rate - under a Labor government, incidentally - remains at 22.5 per cent. So the ACT tax rate will in fact be higher than in New South Wales. But there is no change in the tax rate on poker machines in the premises of for-profit operators. It is only Canberra's community clubs that will have to pay this additional one per cent tax.