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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2448 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The regulation of poker machines in the ACT needs to be done in a strategic way and a bill-by-bill, motion-by-motion approach is not sustainable in the long term. I do hope the government will note that the Assembly is becoming increasingly impatient with their lax approach to gaming regulation.

I have had a few brief discussions with the opposition regarding this piece of legislation and I understand that they will not be supporting it. I do find it hard to understand why, given that it is quite possible that this afternoon we will be debating a bill from Mr Stefaniak to allow hotels and taverns access to poker machines, he does not think that clubs and hotels should have the same rules apply to them in terms of the granting of licences. I find that approach inconsistent. I think that the opposition are currently more interested in defending their role in encouraging the provision of poker machines at the Belconnen pool site than in providing an improved regulatory framework.

We cannot be certain that this piece of legislation will achieve the outcome of preventing poker machines at the Belconnen pool, and I think Ms Tucker knows that. On the other hand, it is a small improvement to the Gaming Machine Act and makes the regulation of poker machines, whether they are in clubs or hotels, more consistent. Hence, I will be supporting this legislation today.


(11.27): Ms Dundas was quite right in saying that the opposition will not be supporting Ms Tucker's legislation. Ms Tucker's legislation is specifically aimed at the Belconnen pool, so it is worthy to dwell on that for a little while. But it also has, as the Treasurer alluded to, some further unforeseen potential as well in terms of affecting some clubs, and some potential to affect future clubs, that provide significant benefits to the territory.

We have had in recent weeks a number of discussions in relation to that. For Ms Dundas's benefit, the opposition is seeking justice in terms of hotels and taverns but certainly appreciates and acknowledges the very significant contribution that the club industry has made to Canberra. This proposal has its genesis in competition policy.

Members who have been here for a while-you, Mr Speaker, and several of your colleagues along with me and some of my colleagues-have been great supporters of having a Belconnen pool. I was absolutely delighted to see $15.3 million provided in the 1997 capital works program for the construction of a pool that would be at least the equal of the one at Tuggeranong, all government money and something that I am sure that Ms Dundas, Ms Tucker and anyone else could probably understand.

A couple of owners of similar establishments in the Belconnen area did not like that, invoked competition policy and we went through a torturous and laborious study of exactly what should occur so that we complied with competition policy. As a result, it was deemed that the government should supply money to provide for a 50-metre indoor pool, open all year round, of at least eight lanes, a warm-up pool of at least three lanes and 25 metres, seating for, I think, 800 people and sound equipment.

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