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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2446 ..

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (11.17): The government, unfortunately, cannot support this bill. It does have the distinct dimension of legislation on the run to address a particular circumstance, a circumstance that may have gone beyond the point where this legislation might have relevance. I am not entirely certain that it would achieve what it was apparently intended to achieve. It may be that it would just serve to complicate the processes of the Gambling and Racing Commission without delivering any discernible benefit.

The bill would place conditions upon licensing in relation to the nature and character of the premises, the general use of the premises and the enjoyment of people using the premises. I will address that first. That would require a very subjective judgment, I have to say. I have been known to visit a club or two in my time and I know that there are a number of people who do not like poker machines. They attend the club and they like the amenities of the club, but quite often they do not reconcile the connection between the availability of those amenities and the existence of the poker machines. I think the bill is rather imprecise in that regard.

The bill talks about premises primarily used by people for the consumption of alcohol. I know a couple of old bowling clubs that would dearly love to be there for the primary purpose of the consumption of alcohol or liquor because they are just not getting the trade across their counters that they actually need to provide what they would otherwise see as their primary purpose, that is, facilities for lawn bowls. So there is confusion as to the primary purpose of clubs. Often, poker machines are quite clearly the revenue raiser, but the primary purpose of the club is sporting, cultural or multicultural in nature.

There is a provision that says that, effectively, a club would have to be in existence for a year before it would qualify to get poker machines. Those of us who have been associated with the establishment of clubs, particularly in new areas, know very well that, if you did not have poker machines and that revenue from day one, it would not be a case of the club not surviving; you just would not get the financing you required to establish the club in the first place.

We all know of clubs that have really battled in their early days to establish themselves. Canberra is going to continue to grow and Canberra is going to continue to change and I do not think we can actually put ourselves into a time warp. Effectively, this bill would inhibit the establishment of any further clubs unless they were direct extensions of the existing larger clubs and could sustain a year of substantial loss before they started to become revenue positive and then be able to contribute to the particular primary purpose of that club.

I think that the legislation is far too subjective and does have elements that would inhibit the establishment of clubs in new areas. I am happy to say-I think "repeat"would be the word in this place-that I do not think that clubs are a bad thing and I do not think that poker machines are necessarily bad things. Like many dimensions of life in the community, we do actually need to ensure that there is some control over the downside of poker machines or driving, drinking or sport itself. I do not think that we should necessarily write them off totally.

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