Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2154 ..
MS HORODNY (5.47): Mr Speaker, the Greens will support the Bill. We will not support the amendment because a gaming tax is entirely consistent with our policies on this issue. Mrs Carnell read out part of the letter we have sent to her, but she did not read out a particularly relevant section, which dealt with the reason why we were unhappy with where the money was being directed. We said in the letter:
We are disappointed that the increased revenue is being used to fund elite sports programs. If this revenue must be tied, we believe it would be much more appropriate to use the revenue for counselling, greater support for families of gambling addicts, and education programs.
Gambling addiction is a very big problem. We are concerned that this money will be going directly to the ACT Academy of Sport. It is not that sports do not deserve funding. I would suggest, though, that, at a time when the Government is cutting services, there are areas that are being cut that deserve to have their funding at least maintained - areas such as public transport, libraries and schools, other areas that have been grossly underfunded for years such as mental health services, and, I would suggest, rangers for our national parks in order to manage those areas properly. They are just two areas that are in far greater need of that money than the ACT Academy of Sport.
It may be that the clubs find it more palatable that taxes raised from their activities go towards supporting sports; but, as members are undoubtedly aware, the social problems associated with gambling are very serious. Encouraging healthy physical activity in the community is a good thing, but it is not more important than providing basic essential services to those in the community who are most in need. We would therefore urge the Government to redirect the money raised to other areas within the budget which are demonstrably in greater need.
MR OSBORNE (5.50): Mr Speaker, I will be brief. I will not be supporting Ms Follett's amendment. I will, however, be supporting the Bill. The Chief Minister said that this was done in consultation with the clubs. I think the fact is that they really did not have much of a choice. They were faced with the option of poker machines in the casino, pubs and taverns or an increase. I am glad that the money is going into sport. However, I agree with Ms Horodny that that may be the challenge for the Chief Minister next time she contemplates an increase for our clubs, which do turn the money back into the community, I might add. The Government might consider helping the families who are affected by the disease.
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (5.51): We will not be supporting the amendment put by Ms Follett. I would like to clarify one issue that Ms Follett brought up, and that was that this one per cent applies only to licensed clubs. The reason for that is that hotels and taverns pay 35 per cent now, so I think they would be very pleased to go down to 23.5 per cent; but I do not think that is terribly appropriate. I do not believe that we have any hotels and taverns who turn over more than $25,000 a month in profit. On the basis that we do not have any in that bracket and they already pay 35 per cent, it seemed inappropriate or unnecessary to have them in there.