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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3184 ..

MR STANHOPE: There is no evidence. There is a whole range of suppositions. There is a whole stack of guesswork. There is a whole spate of crystal ball-gazing going on here. There is absolutely no evidence that this initiative at this time will have any impact at all. At this point in time the Labor Party will not support legislation on this important subject based simply on a wish or a desire to get in ahead with some sort of rather populist response to a really difficult and complex issue.

MS TUCKER (4.28): On the face of it, this bill presents a simple harm minimisation measure to the licensing conditions of gaming machines. We are obviously all aware of the significance of problem gambling in our community. We know that pokies in particular are a problem and that they involve the largest number of problem gamblers. But we also know that racing, wagering and casinos are a big part of the problem. So we know that attention needs to be given to all areas of problem gambling.

I have looked at what Mr Rugendyke suggested and the Greens are prepared to give qualified support. I would like to outline why we have taken this position. Soon after the bill was tabled by Mr Rugendyke I wrote to the Gambling and Racing Commission asking whether they would consider his bill. The commission's response was that they would consider it as part of the review of the Gaming Machine Act. As members will be aware, the Gambling and Racing Commission is charged with the responsibility of providing policy advice and reviews of legislation, all with the umbrella aim of reducing harm and acting in the public interest. So when the bill was brought back onto the Assembly's program, I had some concerns about whether the work had been done.

Members have received letters from various clubs and their workers, and from ClubsACT, claiming that the bill would mean that clubs would have to lay off staff and that not many people gamble at the specified time of day. During the debate today, Mr Humphries put this argument in support of Mr Rugendyke's bill and Mr Stanhope saw this as an argument against the bill. I understand that Mr Humphries argued that there would not be a huge impact on the viability of clubs, and that the loss of small numbers of people playing poker machines could not be seen to be a major threat to clubs.

We just heard Mr Stanhope say that he feels it would not be viable for the clubs to stay open for those hours if the poker machines were not running. If that is the case then this is a very sick industry. If you are seriously telling us that these clubs are not able to stay open for three hours because they do not have poker machines running-

Mr Stanhope: I didn't say that.

MS TUCKER: You didn't say that?

Mr Stanhope: No. I said there must be an impact on staffing.


: Mr Stanhope is suggesting there will be an impact on staffing. I do not know but that may well be the case. But I think the point here is that we are looking at a broader community interest issue. There is potential for staff loss, and I have heard that from the clubs. I do not know how many staff are involved in managing poker machines but certainly, from what I have seen, there are not many. Staff are engaged in providing drinks and so on to people who play poker machines. So, following Mr Stanhope's

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