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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2544 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Government's economic policy or something of that kind. I think that it is appropriate for the Government to have a role but not, on the basis of the evidence presented to us, through this commission.

I would also draw the Government's attention to the Productivity Commission's key findings. One of its key findings was that an ideal regulatory model should separate clearly the policy-making control and the enforcement functions. That, as I pointed out earlier today, is consistent with the recommendations in our report that the commission should be responsible for certain functions and a policy organisation within the Chief Minister's Department - or elsewhere; it may not be in the Chief Minister's Department - should handle the policy aspects. I support the amendment put forward by Ms Tucker on this matter because I think that there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the proper course of action is to separate them.

At 5.00 pm the debate was interrupted in accordance with standing order 34; the motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS TUCKER (5.00): Mr Humphries might be interested in something that the Productivity Commission said in terms of his comments on the impact of gambling on our economy. I refer to the section headed "'Production-side' gains are limited", which reads:

Perhaps reflecting the popular misconceptions about intangible goods, advocates for the gambling industries often underplay the gains to consumers from increased access to a valued or desired activity. Instead, they typically point to benefits in terms of the expenditure, incomes, jobs and trade associated with the industry, both directly and indirectly.

But these "production side" benefits, in contrast to those from consumption, are largely illusory.

The resources available to Australia's economy - its people, capital and land - are not stamped For use only by the gambling industries. If these industries did not exist, most of the resources would be employed in other uses, creating similar levels of income and jobs to gambling itself. For example, the skills required of personnel in gambling venues are very similar to those required in most entertainment and hospitality industries.

Thus while there may be instances where additional jobs or income are generated - say in depressed regions - most of the resources in the gambling industries will have been diverted from other industries. The vocal opposition of retail traders to the expansion of gambling outlets is a visible sign of this underlying economic reality. By the same logic, however, that diversion should not, in itself, be of concern to policy-makers, unless it reduces aggregate economic benefits, rather than simply shuffling them.

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