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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2494 ..

Debate resumed from 24 August 1999, on motion by Ms Carnell:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with the Gaming and Racing Control (Consequential Provisions) Bill 1999? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 1 they may also address their remarks to order of the day No. 2.

MR KAINE (12.18): Mr Speaker, I think I have made it pretty clear long before now that I support the Government's Bill in principle. Much of the material in the Government's Bill and the subsequent amendments were influenced by the report of the Select Committee on Gambling, which reported some time ago. We were to debate that report and the Government's response to it this morning, but we have bypassed that. I do not think it matters because the Government's response to that report has been reflected in the amendments that it is proposing to the legislation for debate today.

As I say, I have no difficulty with the Bill in principle, although I do have some problems with some of the detail of it, and will come to that in the detail stage. I think it is worth while saying at this stage of the debate that there is a very interesting correlation between what the select committee said in its report and what the Productivity Commission said in a major report published quite recently. In fact, I could go through the Productivity Commission's report and identify the commission's key findings, which are summarised on pages xii and xiii of its report, and identify particular recommendations and paragraphs in our own select committee's report which are almost identical. Although the Government tended to denigrate our report a bit when we tabled it and tended to write it off as being a report that did not come to any serious conclusions, in fact the Productivity Commission has very largely endorsed and supported the recommendations and some of the comment in our report. I think that is worth noting.

It is quite clear that gambling in the ACT pretty much reflects the situation across the country. For example, we had recommended that greater research be conducted and one of the comments in the Government's response to our report was that the lack of hard evidence in regard to problem gambling in the ACT had apparently led to various recommendations by the committee for study and research and for increased services to gamblers without any assessment of possible costs and benefits to the community. That was a very interesting comment in light of the key findings of the Productivity Commission's report, which confirms what we said - data is simply not available.

The commission also made the point, and I quote from its report, that "quantification of the costs and benefits of the gambling industries is hazardous". Even at their level they had difficulty in quantifying it, although the Government was quite denigratory in its response to our report because we had failed at our level to identify these things. I think there is a lesson in that. Although much of what we said in our report was based on local anecdotal evidence because there is no body of research and no data from which we could draw and although the Government also commented in their response that we

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