Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 1006 ..
MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):
As I said before, we know what the numbers are. We have been extremely generous with the vested interests. We have said, "Come and give us all your numbers", and we have scared them up. It is about 5,800. We have tried to set a cap of 5,200 - about 800 more than there are in existence at the moment. Existing clubs have a leeway of about 800. Clubs in the building stage, in the planning stage, once they get to the point where they can apply, will be able to apply to the Revenue Commissioner and will be considered. We have been extremely generous to and extremely placating of the vested interests. But, if they want to mount a challenge to this cap within the 12 months, that highlights the greed that these things do generate. I urge members to support this Bill.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (12.47 am): Through you, Mr Speaker, I say to Mr Rugendyke, "We can all crunch numbers; we know about the crunching of numbers". But the point I would like to make is that on most occasions - in fact, any occasion that I can remember that we have put legislation through on the same day - it has been by unanimous agreement. We have said, "Yes; we know what is in the legislation; we are not just pushing it through without giving everybody the opportunity to look at the legislation that we have in front of us". I think you of all people, Ms Tucker, ought to realise that there will be many occasions when you have the opportunity to crunch the numbers, but there will be many occasions when the numbers are against you. So what happens in those circumstances is that we always give each other a bit of room and a bit of consideration when somebody says, "I have a serious problem" with either the way we are doing something or the way a particular piece of legislation is framed.
Mr Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the fact - just to continue on from what Mrs Carnell has pointed out - that the legislation has had a series of amendments, even as late as 5.30 pm today. But let us look at how this is actually going to operate. The critical part about this legislation is that there is a general view, as I read it, that a cap ought to be applied. How is it going to apply? The critical part in this legislation is not the application of the cap but the circumstances in which the restrictions do not apply. I want to draw attention to proposed new section 23C paragraph (c). The section will read this way, if you take the other paragraphs out:
Section 23B does not apply to a club that, on 24 June 1998, does not hold a licence in relation to premises if, having regard to the following criteria, the Commissioner is satisfied that the number of licensed gaming machines referred to in section 23B should be exceeded:
this is one of the criteria -
(c) the corporate and financial relationships with an existing club;
That is how you would have to read it. It does not make sense. I have read it a dozen times or more. I cannot make it make sense. It is just nonsense. We are now going to pass a piece of legislation, I gather. If you pursue this line of reasoning, you are going to crunch through, with the numbers, legislation that does not make sense. If somebody else can interpret that for me, I will be happy. I have asked for advice on it as well, and the people with legal backgrounds I have consulted also cannot make it make sense. I will be very keen to have Ms Tucker explain that.