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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2495 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

had drawn some wrong conclusions because we tended to depend somewhat on interstate experience where the circumstances were different, in fact the Productivity Commission came to pretty much the same conclusions as we did on those issues.

The Bill is necessary. It is justified. By the time we have debated the amendments that the Government has already put forward on the basis of the committee's report, together with amendments for our consideration from Ms Tucker and from Mr Quinlan, I think we will have at the end of the day, and I hope it is not too late today, an effective Bill establishing controlled mechanisms for gambling in all its forms in the Territory. For that reason, as I said, I support the Bill in principle. We might have some interesting debate, however, when we get to the detail stage of the Bill later today.

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak again.

Leave granted.

MR QUINLAN: I was ruled out before on a technicality. At the time this Bill was tabled - about eight months ago - the ALP did not have any great problems with the Bill or see any great dangers looming from it. We had some reservations as to what would be the real structure of the Gaming and Racing Commission, which would be effectively determined by the appointment of individuals to the commission and any predispositions that they might have. Nevertheless, our support was there. Since that time we have received the report from the Select Committee on Gambling, we have witnessed an increased public awareness of problem gambling and we have had published the report of the Productivity Commission, to which Mr Kaine referred, and a couple of other expert opinions. These really cannot be ignored and must figure in our deliberations. At the same time, we must respect absolutely the freedom of choice of people who do choose to gamble and their freedom to make their own decisions.

To cut short my contribution during the detail stage, let me say that generally we accept the thrust of Ms Tucker's proposed amendments, which generally follow the recommendations of the Select Committee on Gambling and recognise the current public debate on the social impacts of gambling. We differ really only on the prescriptiveness of the qualifications for appointment as members of the commission. We agree that at least one of five members, and we will be proposing five, should have a grounding and understanding of the problems with problem gambling. We are less inclined to define limitations on the background and qualifications of other members. We would rather the primary qualification be competence.

It is expected that in the short to mid term the commission will wrestle with some complex and vexed questions in relation to gambling, particularly with advances on the electronic front, so we believe that membership should be open to the most able people. But we do accept that there is a need to prescribe the inclusion of expertise in problem gambling. Other than that, we would like to see some consistency of treatment across the various elements of the gambling industry. If there were to be more than one code of practice, we would like to see a high degree of consistency. We do agree that the Bill should be amended to exclude the promotion and development of gambling as opposed to allowing the commission to take the role of monitoring and regulating. In general, we support the Bill.

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