Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (12 October) . . Page.. 2994 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
As this Assembly has heard before, problem gambling is a major issue of concern to the Australian community. As a result of Greens' amendments supported in the last sitting period, the new Gambling and Racing Control Commission can mitigate against negative social effects of gambling and of problem gambling in a number of ways.
The amendments to the Government's Bill that I am proposing today relate to the commission's powers to develop and review codes of practice to apply to the licensees which deal with the social effects of gambling and to make recommendations to the Minister for appropriate regulations describing these codes of practice. My amendments come out of the unanimous recommendations of the Assembly's Select Committee on Gambling in the ACT and also the key findings of the Productivity Commission's draft report into Australia's gambling industry.
The select committee said that it believed that the club industry in particular "can and should do more in implementing responsible gambling practices". The select committee recommended unanimously that the currently voluntary code, entitled "Responsible Gaming; a Voluntary Code of Practice for the ACT", be replaced with a mandatory enforceable code of practice for responsible gambling. This recommendation came out of information presented to the select committee that the voluntary code of practice for the ACT club industry in particular was not being enforced, according to agencies such as Lifeline, and in fact was subject to breaches, according to other submissions presented. The select committee also heard advice from gambling experts such as Professor Jan McMillan from the Australian Institute of Gambling Research that if gambling industry codes of practice are to work they should be mandatory.
The Productivity Commission's draft report also stated in its key findings that "existing regulatory arrangements are inadequate to ensure the informed consent of consumers, or to ameliorate the risks of problem gambling". The Productivity Commission argued:
The principle of informed consent should apply with particular force to the gambling industries, given the potential for consumer losses. The Productivity Commission found a lack of even basic information about the price and nature of some gambling products, let alone the dangers from "excessive consumption". Effective consumer protection measures are needed in a number of areas.
The Productivity Commission also noted deficiencies in the control of advertising, the availability of ATMs and credit, and self-exclusion arrangements. The Productivity Commission went on to say in its key findings that "self regulatory approaches are unlikely to be as effective as explicit regulatory requirements". So the new Gambling and Racing Control Commission's powers to develop and review codes of practice to apply to the licensees and to make recommendations to the Minister provide one means to address the social effects of gambling and of problem gambling.
Just to remind members, these codes of practice as prescribed in the Act may include, but are not limited to, guidelines about advertising, promotional practices and the offering of inducements; providing objective and accurate information about losing and winning; limiting facilities that make it easy for a gambler to spend more than he or she originally intended, such as automatic teller machines, credit facilities and allowing persons to pay