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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 1963 ..



It's interesting listening to some of the debate in relation to the history of the cap. I recall being in cabinet at the time. We were somewhat concerned about whether in fact we should seek to artificially limit the supply, being a Liberal government.

However, the cap was brought in; it was extended under us; and the government now seeks to extend it and keep it at 5,200. There are a number of reasons why I think that is an appropriate figure for 12 months.

As all members have said-and Ms Tucker most recently alluded to finally-one would hope within the 12 months the government will have responded to the gambling commission's review, a review that I think they sat on for about four months. At least it is now before them. That will lead to substantial legislation which might well negate the need for a cap. Who knows and who can foresee what will actually occur with that legislation. But I think that is a valid point. At this point in time the cap of 5,200 is reasonable. That obviously can be amended either through substantive legislation in the next 12 months or indeed through other legislation should the need arise.

The Treasurer, I think, is quite right in saying that there are perhaps a number of clubs who will be seeking poker machines, who have an expectation that their application will be granted and who satisfy the criteria.

He is also right in saying that pokies are not all bad. The clubs have put in considerable amounts of moneys to very good community activities in the ACT.

I suppose I should declare that I have been a director of some three licensed clubs over that time and only recently resigned from the Polish Australian White Eagle Club, when I became gaming and racing spokesman, as I thought there might be a conflict of interest situation there. But I've certainly had a fair amount to do with the club industry.

Certainly the amount of money that is spent is considerable. A lot of it is spent in the sporting area which I think is a wonderful thing. The fact is that thousands of people, especially young people, have benefited from the money that clubs have put into sport. This has really assisted the ACT in having the highest participation rate in the country. The fact that they've been able to participate has, rightly or wrong, come about due to poker machine revenue, amongst other things.

The clubs have also put a lot into other community activities too. I think the initiative which we undertook as a government to have a certain percentage paid out for community support, community contributions, is a very good step. It's pleasing to see that being continued, and I think that certainly should be continued regardless of whatever review you do have.

Also I think it is important, from our point of view, to have a cap such as this. Tomorrow I'll be seeking to reserve a certain amount of machines for pubs and taverns. I do think they have been very hard done by over the years in terms of access to proper gaming machines.

I note the Treasurer's comments that-and indeed I think Ms Tucker might have mentioned it; somebody did-problem gamblers tend to be attracted to the bigger clubs

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