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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (20 May) . . Page.. 415 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

concern because they are not going to increase exponentially. Well, maybe not exponentially - that is a very large growth description - but it is growing very significantly in terms of the numbers in our society. In the absence of any regulation, as I said, there will be continuing growth and we need to apply the precautionary principle here and say, "Let us work out the implications of this continued growth and not allow it until we do understand those implications".

There is not even any transparent process or criteria for determining the number of poker machines in this town. I hope an inquiry will provide the Assembly with useful information on which to make a more informed assessment of the economic and social costs and benefits of gambling. I also strongly believe that the committee needs to look at how we improve the regulatory process so that we can regulate the future growth and conduct of the gambling industry, perhaps by giving the commissioner greater powers or creating an authority of some kind.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I urge members to support this motion. I believe it is a motion which is sensible. It is acknowledging the work that will be carried out by the Productivity Commission. We will be able to link with that work because it is due to report by the end of the year and we have set as the reporting date for this select committee the beginning of next year. Obviously, there would be some flexibility about that and the work of the Government as well, of course, which is due to be reported quite soon. That would be a really good starting point for the committee. I know that the community, or many people in the community, are interested in seeing their elected representatives look at this issue as elected representatives in a separate forum from the current inquiry by the Government.

MR OSBORNE (3.53): Mr Speaker, I rise to indicate that I will not be taking part in the vote on this issue. As in the past on the issue of poker machines, I have felt, given my relationship with the West Belconnen Leagues Club and the Raiders to a certain extent, that there may be some perceived conflict of interest. So, as in the past, I will rule myself out of this debate and go and have a cup of coffee.

MR RUGENDYKE (3.54): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the motion as put by Ms Tucker. I welcome the opportunity to serve on the select committee if that is the will of the Assembly and if a select committee is appointed. I am interested also to note that poker machines will be only a small part of the focus of any select committee on gambling. Gambling ranges across a broad range of things. As members may be aware, one of my greatest interests is the socially disadvantaged of our community, people less able to control money. I have often heard anecdotal evidence that there are problems within that group brought about by gambling as a whole. I welcome the opportunity to find out the facts through the mechanism of a select committee and to determine the extent of problems that may exist as a result of gambling, if in fact they do. So, Mr Speaker, I do welcome this motion.

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