Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 1978 ..
Hotels with 12 or more beds were entitled to up to 10 class B or class A machines. Class A machines, as I have indicated, no longer exist. You may be able to find some in a couple of pubs in rural England but that's about it. They do not exist in Australia and have not existed in the territory for about 10 years.
There are currently some six hotels in the territory that have 10 class B machines, and they are draw poker machines. There are a further six of those machines out in the licensed clubs. Hotels and taverns are not entitled to any class C machines, which are the normal, modern garden variety poker machines we see in any club in the territory. That is, indeed, a very different situation to what is happening in other parts of the country.
Mr Speaker, over many years I have been involved in the club industry as a director of three different licensed clubs. I am well aware of this debate around poker machines, and I am well aware of what I believe are a lot of fallacies in relation to this debate. I can very clearly recall when I was a director of Royals in 1985 to 1988 the debate that was raging about taverns and hotels seeking justice, seeking access to a limited number of class C gaming machines. At that time it struck me that my old club, Royals, would not be remotely affected if the Rose and Crown and Matilda's Tavern, which were the two local watering holes at Weston, each had two class C machines. Indeed, in those days Royals would often close at two or three, and some of the more intrepid and often the younger members of the club would wander down for a few more cleansing ales, probably rather stupidly, at the Rose and Crown or Matilda's.
Two poker machines would not have made a jot of difference there, nor would they have made a jot of difference to the ACT Rugby Union Club at Barton, which I was also a director of from 1986 to 1987. Perhaps they would not have affected the Polish Club at O'Connor, of which I was up until recently also a director, if there had been a licensed establishment at the O'Connor shops. That club, of course, like a lot of other small ethnic clubs, is not going particularly well. But you are catering in many ways to different clientele.
There are some big problems, apart from just the eminent fairness problem, for hotels and taverns. I did a tour some six months ago of all the taverns in my electorate-and there are about 12; we are probably talking about 26 taverns all up. There are not a huge number of hotels. If members look at the second part of my bill they will see what effectively is a reservation of a little under 200 machines for hotels and taverns. So we are not talking about a lot of machines. If my bill is passed we would be talking about probably 3 per cent or so of total gaming machines in the territory.
But there are a number of problems. Let me take Federation Square. The owners of the tavern at Federation Square, which is a tourist destination in Canberra, have been operating for about three years. Like all tavern owners, they are struggling. Tourists drop in to enjoy a meal, enjoy a beer and have a little flutter on the poker machines, as they do in their own states. But they leave when they find out there aren't any poker machines. They say, "We would like to play some poker machines, you don't have any, where can we go?"The tavern owners lose a fair bit of business because of this.