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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3176 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

as the racing industry. We have come a long way, but we must tread lightly. There are, as set out in this survey, problem gamblers. There are problem drinkers. But this society today-

Mr Kaine: There are problem politicians, too.

MR HIRD: There are problem politicians, and one spoke just then. He may well say I am a problem politician.

Mr Stanhope: Heaven forbid.

MR HIRD: Never. I do have the confidence of the Leader of the Opposition. He has told me that he is looking after my interests. I go to bed at night with a warm glow knowing that I have the Leader of the Opposition concerned about my well-being.

Mr Berry: Vicki Dunne is trying to look after you, Harold.

MR HIRD: As for Mr Berry, I have known him for over 22 years, and he is the only man I know who would push me into a bog rather than shove me out, but that is another story for another time.

Getting back to the matter before the house, gambling is part of our community, and we have to face it; but we also must look at the benefits that flow from gambling and channel those benefits to help those who need helping, as indicated in the survey. Money should go to organisations and community groups to assist compulsive gamblers and to better enlighten the club industry of its responsibilities to the community. Clubs are not just gambling dens and places of entertainment. They have to shoulder their responsibilities and not just spend money on new gambling equipment and benefits to their members. Because of the actions of this government, a percentage is going back into the ACT community at large.

We in the territory can be proud of seeing an industry grow from the ashes to what it is today. Thousands of people, not hundreds, are employed either directly or indirectly by the club industry. When we talk of clubs, we talk of poker machines, and if you talk of poker machines and clubs you have to incorporate alcohol as well. You also have to incorporate the benefits that flow to the community at large, and not just to their members.

The club industry has to shoulder its responsibilities, and I am confident that it will, but it needs direction. The proper place from which to get that direction is this place. I commend the bill to the house, but I believe that it needs to be looked at in light of other areas as well.

MR KAINE (3.58): I must commend Mr Hird on a very erudite speech, very erudite indeed. It was most interesting to listen to. The only problem was that it did not cast any light for me on the substance of the bill that is before us. The purpose of the bill is to curtail poker machine operating hours in the early hours of the morning. Despite the fact that Mr Hird's speech was a very erudite one, I regret that it did not deal with that problem, which is the substance of the bill before it.

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