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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3177 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not have any problem in principle with the notion of closing down gambling machine operations for part of the day, whether it is the early hours of the morning or late at night or at any other time of the day, but I do have a problem with dealing with this bill today. It is a case of keeping a dog and doing the barking yourself, because we have a Gambling and Racing Commission which we established quite recently for the specific purpose of examining issues like this one. My understanding is that they have a review in process, so why would we pull out this small aspect of the whole gambling field in Canberra and legislate especially for just it when there is a review of the whole operation going on by the authority which we set up for that purpose?

Mr Hird said we are the people who should make the decision. Yes, we should when we are sufficiently informed on the ramifications of it. It is the responsibility of the Gambling and Racing Authority to do a proper inquiry, then recommend to this place what we should do in light of informed opinion, not just take some knee-jerk reaction and say, "We think there is something bad about poker machines operating at 6 o'clock in the morning, so therefore we are going to discontinue it."

I do not know, and I suspect that Mr Rugendyke does not know either, and I will bet that Mr Hird does not, how many people are in clubs at six o'clock in the morning playing poker machines. I have no information on that. Does Mr Rugendyke? If he has got it he did not put it on the table. Mr Hird certainly did not. Of those people who are in there at six o'clock in the morning, if there are any, how many of them are problem gamblers? We do not know. We are totally uninformed.

If we close the clubs to poker machine operations for a certain time at any time during the day, what would be the impact of that closure on the revenues that come from the clubs to the government and to the community? I do not know. Does Mr Rugendyke know? How many people are going to lose their employment if we close the clubs to poker machines during this time? I do not know.

How on earth can we make a decision on a matter like this with no information at all about the ramifications of doing so? I come back to the point that I began with, not that I want to refer to the gambling commission as a dog, but we have got a dog, so why are we doing our own barking? Why aren't we tasking the gambling commission with doing a full inquiry and then coming to us with appropriate recommendations? That, to me, Mr Deputy Speaker, is the responsible way to go, the proper way to go, and then we can at least be making a decision on the basis of being informed about the consequences of what we are proposing to do. At the moment we are being asked to make a decision with no information at all. I find that, frankly, quite offensive, Mr Deputy Speaker.

I do not think we should be asked to make decisions under those circumstances, particularly when we have a body in place whose job it is to investigate and inquire into these matters. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have to say that in principle I oppose this bill; not because I do not think it might be a good idea at the end of the day, it might be, but I do not think this is the way to deal with it. So, if I am asked to vote on it today, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will be voting against it.

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