Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4653 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, there is already a response to our last point: What is the formal response of the Government to the report of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment on the Acton-Kingston land swap delivered in May 1996? Thank you, Chief Minister; we now have the formal response. You anticipated the tabling of the report. If we had this kind of efficiency right through the Government, the committees would have no role. We thank you for that report and the tabling statement. Mr Speaker, I believe that the committee has dealt very sensibly with the very thorny issue of the Acton-Kingston land swap. I believe it is appropriate that the committee report be adopted by the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Ms McRae) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21 November 1996, on motion by Mrs Carnell:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (5.36): The Opposition will be supporting this legislation. The Bill redefines "junket gaming" and gives it a more modern interpretation, using the phrase "commission-based gaming". It will allow the casino to negotiate with individual players and offer concessions to those players rather than only to junket operators, so called. The Government believes that these measures will have the potential to increase the takings of the casino and thereby the taxation revenue of the Government. I am sure we would all be happy with that. Mr Speaker, the opening of the Sydney and Melbourne casinos has changed the casino environment in Australia, although not in a completely unanticipated way. Nevertheless, it is important that the Canberra Casino be encouraged to compete for business and to find a place in the market. I hope that these changes will be effective in encouraging more people to come to Canberra as an alternative to going to the other casinos in Australia and the region.
I understand that Casino Austria has said that the amendment will be reinforced through a marketing strategy which includes incentives like airfares and accommodation, which is essential in attracting high-stake players. It is also essential, Mr Speaker, in my view, that they make efforts to make the casino a more attractive option and market it more effectively to the Canberra community. The community has invested a lot in the Canberra Casino. Casino Austria also has invested a lot in the Canberra Casino as well. While it is not the role of government to prop up business, we are talking about a business which is in a highly regulated market, and we do have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that the casino operates in the most viable way. The Government and the Assembly, of course, have an interest in that because of the potential revenue coming from the casino. The Opposition will be supporting the legislation and we will be looking closely at what the casino makes of the opportunities provided by these amendments.