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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 814 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

We could see quite clearly from the evidence that we are not in a position where an informed decision can be made on this matter. There is no local research on impacts of current gambling opportunities, let alone information to inform on the impacts of increased access.

I know that this report will be disappointing to the hotel industry lobby and the club industry, but the task of the committee was to look at broad, social and community interest questions, and that is what we did. The report has clearly concluded that the public interest must be guarded by appropriate systems and structures. The broad policy decisions related to gambling will always be properly the domain of government and this Assembly. If the recommendations of this report are implemented, those policy decisions will be able to be informed by real information and not just by political pressure.

I commend this report to the Assembly and I also thank everyone who contributed, including the other members of the committee and Fiona Clapin, our secretary, who did an absolutely fantastic job. It was not an easy inquiry and there was a lot of pressure put on members at various stages. I believe that if the recommendations of this report are properly implemented the ACT will lead the way in responsible management of the gambling industry, and that, Mr Speaker, we could be proud of.

MR WOOD (10.51): Mr Speaker, my view on gambling, and particularly on poker machines, changed considerably during this inquiry. Among other reasons, my view changed because I did not know much about them. I am a very part-time, low-level gambler in that I put very little money into machines, and I do not know much about them. Once I paid more attention to it and heard the stories from Canberra and beyond, I became quite concerned about the impact of these machines.

I remember the days when I was a teacher. On Friday afternoons I would adjourn to the tennis club, stand at a machine, look out the window and watch people play tennis, have a few beers and put in 20c at a time. That was low-level gambling. It was pleasurable because of the company I kept and it was a pretty slow process. But now I go to a club, if I am so inclined, and put in a very large note and press buttons, if I am inclined, and I am not, on up to 20 lines or something, and a large amount of money can disappear in next to no time.

So we know there is a problem about gambling. It is now very much more a problem for people than it was before. The technologies in particular have allowed that to happen. There is no question that people are being affected by it. Less now do you see a group of people like me and my mates gathered around a machine gasbagging and putting in our 20c and pulling that handle. Now the windows are not there and you have individuals focusing on a machine, and I am concerned about it.

When the inquiry began I was expecting to say, "Oh well, there is no worry about poker machines. I am not going to worry about expansion or anything of that nature". That was my view. That was my background thought, not firm opinion, when the inquiry began, and I changed. My view now is simply this: There is a concern. We do not

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