Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3205 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (5.41), in reply: The Australian Institute of Gambling Research report released recently highlighted the frightening impacts that pokies are having in our community. What the research also represents-much as the club industry and those in this place who rely on funding from the club industry have appallingly tried to deny it in protecting their own interests-is how the expansion of 24-hour poker machines into suburbs like Charnwood, Macquarie and Holt has contributed to this extremely serious problem.

Take the Ginninderra Labor Club in Charnwood. It is open around the clock on three days a week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These, of course, are the times when people are most likely to have money in their pockets. The Australian Taxation Office confirmed in April that Charnwood was part of the 2615 postcode area that rated as having the lowest earners in the ACT, at an average annual income of $36,000. This demographic matches the profile in the new gambling data, which shows that poker machines prey on people with low incomes, who are losing up to half of their pay.

Professor McMillen said in releasing her report that a key issue was accessibility. In Sydney the proliferation of poker machines, in particular into the pub market, has had a well-documented impact on poorer areas. In Sydney accessibility has increased just as the 24-hour operations have increased accessibility in the ACT, even though the number of machines has stayed the same.

The Labor government in New South Wales has raised a similar proposal. The club industry in New South Wales acknowledged that a break for gamblers was warranted. On 28 July ClubsNSW chief executive, Mark Fitzgibbon, provided a reaction to plans to shut New South Wales pokie venues for a minimum of six hours. In the Daily Telegraph Mr Fitzgibbon said:

We are not supportive of the idea of a prohibition on 24-hour gambling, but we think six hours is excessive. A one or two hour break would be sufficient to allow problem gamblers to time out.

Mr Speaker, the clubs industry and the Labor Party in New South Wales acknowledge that it is sensible to provide gamblers a break. It confounds my understanding that the club industry and the Labor Party in the ACT are in protest mode. But we all know the reason why. I note with interest, though, that the Chief Minister's office has said that one of the big clubs in the ACT does support an enforced break.

I have heard my bill described as a knee-jerk reaction. Mr Speaker, I informed ClubsACT that this issue was on the agenda 12 months ago, and this proposal was around two years before that. In 1998 the Allen Consulting Group produced a report titled Gambling and related legislation in the ACT. In the section on hours of operation, the report made recommendation 20, which said:

The Gaming Machine Act should be amended to restrict the operation of gaming machines in clubs, hotels and taverns to those times when open for the sale of liquor. In the cases of clubs who do not hold a liquor licence, a mandatory break in the operation of gaming machines of at least three hours a day should be applied.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .