Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 1954 ..
This bill now is a fairly simple matter of just extending the cap. The government wants two years. I think Ms Dundas has, as Ms Tucker has, a motion to restrict that to one year. I indicate the opposition will be supporting this.
I think Ms Dundas has one other amendment, which is allowed by Mr Speaker, in relation to the actual cap itself-restricting it to 5,068, which is the current number of machines. At this stage I'd indicate that the opposition won't be supporting that because that, as much as anything, conflicts with something we're seeking to do tomorrow.
The cap was introduced by the previous Carnell government. At the time I think there were about 4,900 machines out there; the cap was 5,200. I think it has worked well. The government is seeking to extend the cap for two years. Obviously the cap does need to be extended. We feel two years is too long; we feel the government is simply duckshoving its responsibilities until past the next election.
The gaming commissioner has conducted a very wide-ranging and extensive review, with, finally, that report which was tabled in, I think, February or so of this year. I note it probably should have been tabled in about October. There was some consternation amongst key players in the industries that are affected as to why it wasn't tabled then. However, it was tabled. The government is yet to make its response.
It recommends a number of significant changes which will require fairly significant legislation. The opposition feels it is appropriate that that is dealt with by this Assembly and not palmed off, fobbed off, until after the next election. There are some difficult decisions to be made, but that I think needs to be done by this Assembly. Therefore, the amendment to have the sunset clause extended for only 12 months makes a lot of sense.
It also makes a lot of sense too in that we're now seeing a spate of applications by licensed clubs-and new licensed clubs, at that-in terms of additional machines. We have new clubs-for example, out in Gungahlin-and of course existing clubs sometimes wish to expand.
We're also seeing, sadly I think in some ways, a number of clubs actually fading from the scene-clubs that have served our community very well. It is always sad to see some of those clubs go. In particular, in recent times we have seen some ethnic clubs go. That also indicates perhaps that some machines might be handed back. I understand a club in Dickson has a number of machines-I'm uncertain as to this- that they actually are in the process of handing back. That, again, might affect the actual cap.
Currently, Mr Deputy Speaker, there are 5,068 machines; 5,002 are class C gaming machines; 66 are class B machines, which are the draw poker machines; 60 of those are in six hotels, which are entitled to them, having accommodation requirements that satisfy the act; the remaining six are out in the clubs. Because of this act and the way it has been administered over the years, and despite the view the opposition has as to some unfairness there, all the class C machines are out there in the clubs. That is another issue for tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting the extension of the cap, but we will be supporting it for 12 months.