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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 1962 ..



I notice that the National Bank was given a little wrap for its removal of ATMs from licensed clubs. I'd be a bit careful before I lionised them because there has been at least some claim that all the National Bank is doing is poisoning the well because they were going to lose a contract to supply general purpose ATMs in general. It may not have been as noble an act as they would have you believe.

I think I'll leave it at that. The opposition is not going to support this amendment, and neither they should; so I'll leave it at that.


(6.02): I will support this amendment. I remember very, very well when we came up with the first figure of 5,200. It was a very tense debate and Mrs Carnell's advisers were frantically trying to persuade me. We listened to what they said. It had to absolutely be this figure because there were a number of clubs that were in the process of being built, that were relying on having poker machines to make them valid and if we didn't give this extra room in the cap, that would cause serious problems for those clubs that were already well down the track of building premises. So we took that into account when we came up with that figure. But what has happened since, as you can see, is that, mainly through clubs closing, there is some slack there. I'm quite comfortable with actually reducing the number.

My original intention, when we put the proposal for this cap, was that that cap should only take into account poker machines for new clubs that had been under the impression they would have poker machines. It's been interesting to me to see how the cap has been applied over the years. It doesn't seem to me as though my original intention has actually translated into how it's been implemented over the years, because there certainly seems to have been machines going to clubs other than the clubs that we had in mind when we set the cap. I have been surprised over the years that there hasn't been a bigger pooling of machines that aren't being used when clubs have closed. Maybe that was a fault in the drafting of the cap that we put up in the first place; or maybe it changed over the years, and we didn't realise it, each time it was renewed.

I don't have a problem with reducing the cap at this point of time. I think the cap's potentially getting near the end of its life. If we are going to some substantial document in evidence-based policy in terms of what number of machines are appropriate at venues and which venues and so on, maybe we won't have a cap. But at this point in time it seems quite reasonable to reduce the cap and wait and see what actually comes out of this work.

I can see there are arguments for keeping the cap but, as I said before, that's by no means supported by evidence as a means of reducing problem gambling necessarily. There are a lot of more subtle aspects as well, particularly proximity, the number of machines in the particular venue and so on. So it's not just about reducing the number but it certainly is something that we've supported until there was some more real understanding of how you deal with problem gambling.


(6.05): The opposition will not be supporting Ms Dundas' amendment. I'm not quite sure if it's right-it doesn't matter-but, from what the Treasurer says, it's 5,065; she says 5,020; we can sort that one out. I note with interest that it doesn't affect either way what I'll be seeking to do tomorrow.

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