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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 722 ..


Debate resumed from 10 March 1999, on motion by Mr Kaine:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR OSBORNE (10.54): I inform the Assembly that I will not be taking part in this debate or this vote because I believe this Bill relates to the casino, specifically to poker machines. Therefore, I will do as I have done in the past and see you all later.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.55): Mr Kaine's Bill amends the Casino Control Act 1988 to provide that the Minister may determine the designation of a casino only by regulation. Under the Subordinate Laws Act 1989, a regulation is an instrument disallowable by the Legislative Assembly. Currently the Minister may make a determination by notice published in the Gazette. Simplistically, as the Minister, by publishing a notice in the Gazette, I can change the amount of space at the casino used by the casino. Mr Kaine is suggesting that such a decision should be disallowable by this Assembly.

Mr Speaker, the Government has maintained a policy of not extending modern gaming machines outside the club industry. However, the casino successfully applied for a change of lease purpose clause for the casino lease to include, among other things, a club. This decision by the Commissioner for Land and Planning was appealed against by the Licensed Clubs Association in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The ACT Supreme Court also rejected a challenge mounted by the Canberra Tradesmen's Union Club and the LCA. The matter is now before the Federal Court.

The fact that this particular issue was appealed by the Tradies, the Canberra Tradesmen's Union Club, means, in my view, that immediately those opposite must do exactly what Mr Osborne just did. They have a very clear-cut conflict of interest. Those opposite have argued that poker machines do not give any personal benefit to members of the Labor Party. That is a very tenuous argument. But now we have a classic case in this particular piece of legislation where a club that, on record, contributes to the Labor Party is opposing, challenging, a decision on the casino. The Tradesmen's Union Club, a club very closely aligned with the Labor Party, have opposed a decision lawfully made by the Commissioner for Land and Planning.

The Commissioner for ACT Revenue has received an application for a gaming machine licence from the Raiders Sports Club Ltd to be located within the current designated casino area. If the club meets all required criteria for a gaming licence, the commissioner would have a statutory obligation to grant such a licence. Similarly, the Minister, under the Casino Control Act, may exercise his or her discretion and designate an area for the purposes of a casino and hence allow room for the establishment of a club within the casino premises.

Under Mr Kaine's Bill, while the Minister may still designate an area for the casino, it would be done by regulation and, as such, the regulation would be subject to a majority vote of the Assembly. Mr Speaker, the problem with this whole approach is that the

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