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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 771 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Sydney, a person eminently qualified to carry out such a review-will focus principally on poker machine gambling. That seems to be the thrust of it.

Of course, there are other forms of problem gambling. One which is only just emerging and potentially very much more serious and socially damaging perhaps than some of the other forms is that of Internet or online gambling. I ask the Chief Minister: will he ensure that this form of gambling is given due consideration in this research project?

MR HUMPHRIES: No, I will not. The reason is that the matter which has been taken up by the Gambling and Racing Commission has been expressly the matter of the administration of the Gaming Machine Act and all its implications in the ACT. Through this process, it is addressing the question of poker machines and their impact on the broader community.

The question of problem gambling is an important issue, but it is a very large issue, a matter on which there has already been a number of inquiries in the ACT and nationally, including through the Productivity Commission. It would be inappropriate to so widen the inquiry that the commission is proposing that it would be unable to come back to this Assembly with a comprehensive answer for a very long period. I think it is more appropriate to take this process in bite-sized chunks. The most obvious and pressing chunk which deserves to be bitten on is that of poker machines in the community.

MR KAINE: I assume from the Chief Minister's answer that, although it is not part of this study, Internet and online gambling will the subject of such a review in the future. My supplementary question relative to the report the Chief Minister has now described is: noting that the cap on the gaming machine sunset clause is less than four months away, will the Chief Minister ensure that that report from this review is tabled in the Assembly for debate before then?

MR HUMPHRIES: No. Again, I cannot do that, because I believe the timeframe we are looking at for decision or for recommendations arising from that report is much longer than four months from now. It would have to be about three months from now that the Assembly would need to receive the report for it to be of any use in a debate in four months time about whether to extend or change the arrangements with that cap.

I have discussed the matter with the chairman of the Gambling and Racing Commission. It is possible that there could be some interim recommendations or interim advice from the commission on the question of the cap. In light of what Mr Kaine has just asked, I will certainly seek that advice from the commission. That may or may not be educated by the work that is being done by Ms McMillan. It may or may not be a factor in her work, but it is certainly a matter I will raise as result of this question.

It would be inappropriate to leave the question of the cap to this inquiry. This is going to be a broad-ranging inquiry into many aspects of the Gaming Machine Act. It would be wrong to try to force it to come down with a report in time to allow us to make a decision about the cap. It is better to get a comprehensive and complete answer on the position and role of poker machines in this community.

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