Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2512 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The biggest argument against the idea that poker machines will sweep the territory is the previous conduct of the Gambling and Racing Commission which has approved few applications for additional venues or increases in machine numbers. And there is no reason to believe that this would change if this bill were passed.

Consecutive governments have used the restriction of poker machines to clubs as a substitute for proper regulation. Instead of providing an evidence-based approach to regulation, the government's policy basis seems to be: we think that clubs are good for the community; so if we restrict poker machines to clubs, then everything will be okay. This is not an informed policy, nor is it accurate.

The ACT's regulatory framework for poker machines is inadequate and ad hoc-and I can't keep repeating this enough. We are looking for change. We are looking for a regulation system that recognises that we do have a number of problem gamblers in the ACT and that we need to better manage that. We have repeatedly called for the government to provide us with a comprehensive framework for dealing with gambling in the ACT. We have had, from memory, three reports in the recent past that call for a complete overhaul of poker machines and gambling in the ACT. Yet this government still has not progressed.

The Gambling and Racing Commission cannot effectively manage the existing allocation. Poker machine licences continue to be released in perpetuity, with no ability for that application to be reviewed. The commission is unable to remove inappropriate machines from venues or refuse undesirable applications if criteria are met. This leads to the discussion we were having this morning about the Belconnen pool, where the premises have been licensed but zero poker machines have been allocated because that is the only way that the commission can deal with that situation.

We need to stop expecting poker machine numbers to rise and rise. We need to start thinking about managing our machines dynamically and empowering the commission to authorise the cancellation and reallocation of existing licences. In this way not only can machines be transferred to locations or proprietors most likely to minimise problem gambling but new areas and new venues can be provided with machines without increasing the total number of machines. In fact, the number of machines could be aggressively reduced.

I would like to say in conclusion that this is not meant to be in any way an anti-club statement, nor is it meant to be to a certain extent a pro-tavern or pub statement. My main concern with relation to poker machines is how they are regulated, irrespective of where they are.

I've said today-I've said before-that we are actually approaching this whole thing in very much an ad hoc way. We dispense with one piece of legislation today relating to what happens in venues where there are poker machines. We have this debate now. We've had another piece of legislation dropped on us this morning by Mrs Cross in relation to pokies and gambling venues. This is a very ad hoc and piecemeal way to deal with the entire situation.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .