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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1603 ..

Wednesday, 7 May 2003

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Gaming Machine (Political Donations) Amendment Bill 2003

Mrs Cross, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MRS CROSS (10.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, in presenting the Gaming Machine (Political Donations) Amendment Bill 2003, I apologise to members for my croaky voice. This bill is a most significant step in ensuring that the revenue gained from the use of gaming machines in the territory is used in the way it should be, that is, in contributing to the wellbeing of our community.

This bill aims to remove the right of community clubs that have gaming machine licences to donate to political parties or individuals standing for office. This bill will assist in ensuring that the honesty and integrity of this place are upheld by removing any perception that political favours may be done for institutions that have gaming licences in exchange for monetary gain or other support. This bill will ensure that community organisations that have been given the opportunity to gain revenue from gaming machine licences use that revenue to support community organisations, not political parties or individuals of any political persuasion.

One of the major reasons for denying privately-owned hotels, taverns and other institutions, such as the Canberra casino, the right to obtain gaming licences is that clubs supposedly put their profits back into the community. If this is to continue to be the case, we as an Assembly must be seen to be ensuring that there can be no perception of favour done for any individual or party in politics.

I am in no way suggesting that any ACT government, past or present, has in any way been less than honest in its dealings with gaming machine licences. However, this does not mean that this could not happen in the future. Furthermore, if gaming machine licensees are no longer donating to the political process, there will be more funds available to invest back into the community.

The fifth Gambling and Racing Commission report stated that the total amount of contributions to community groups by gaming machine licensees was down nearly $800,000, with charitable organisations, welfare safety and social services being the biggest losers. This was despite profits from gaming machines being up by more than $3 million on the previous year.

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