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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3424 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, members will be aware from the administrative arrangements implemented earlier this year that the Government began centralising some of the gaming and racing functions within the Office of Financial Management. Further consolidation of these functions is recommended by the Allen Consulting Group report that was released in June this year. In line with the recommendation of the report, the Government proposes that the commission be established as an independent regulator, at arm's length from the Government. The Gaming and Racing Control Bill 1998 does that.

The commission will be responsible for the administration of all of the Territory's gambling laws and one of the commission's foremost tasks will be the urgently needed review of most of those laws, much of which is outdated. For example, we have applying to the Territory New South Wales Acts of 1901 and 1906 which have been repealed in New South Wales.

The Government is pleased to have the in-principle support of the Select Committee on Gambling for the new regulatory body. The Government is cognisant of the committee's recommendation to defer the introduction of the Bill until after the committee has reported next year. Mr Speaker, first of all, I would like to assure the committee that the Government will be able to incorporate any recommendations of the select committee which are appropriate and relevant into the commission's functions. In other words, there is no reason to delay the establishment of the commission once the committee has had a look at it.

The Government is aware of some unwarranted concerns that stakeholders have not been consulted about the proposed establishment of the commission. Key stakeholders were consulted by the Allen Consulting Group and, by introducing the Bill now, stakeholders have a further opportunity to comment before the Bill is debated next year.

Mr Speaker, I note that the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of New South Wales recently completed an inquiry into gaming in New South Wales. It has recommended that an independent gaming commission undertake the control functions of the gaming and liquor industry. It also recommends an enforcement and policy agency.

While the separation of regulation from policy is perceived as the most attractive theoretical model, it would be excessively costly and impractical for the ACT, given the small size of our industry and the ACT bureaucracy. Divorcing policy development from administration would require significant duplication of bureaucratic resources for possibly only marginally improved oversight. The Allen report noted this and commented that all matters which are presented to Cabinet would be scrutinised by central agencies, thereby providing the broader government input and coordination to policy issues on gambling.

The Government must take every opportunity to make administrative efficiencies. Any delay is a cost to the taxpayer and to the industry. The Gaming and Racing Commission will be best positioned to provide a more consistent and integrated approach to gambling regulation and related policy advice.

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