Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2513 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
To that extent, I am quite uncomfortable with what it is that Mr Stefaniak has put forward today in that it's just another piecemeal piece of legislation. But I believe that the essence of what is trying to be achieved-in that we do need to be looking at how poker machines are allocated, where they are allocated and the restrictions that we put on the machines and not so much on the licensing requirement for that venue-does need to be deeply explored.
I again repeat my call for the government to take the lead on this. You have the reports; you have the commission providing you with information; you have a department working on this. Yet, we are doing this piece by piece. I don't think that is a productive way to continue to move forward in dealing with problem gambling or the proliferation of poker machines in the ACT.
If the government would come forward with a proposal, a discussion paper or some type of constructive consultation with all of the community, we might be able to actually move forward, as opposed to inching forwards and backwards as this Assembly has been doing with this issue.
I do think that this is a very important debate-and I'm glad that we're having it-but, in terms of looking at this as a big picture, this is just one other amendment that doesn't look at the entire community; so it is to a certain extent disappointing to see that we do have to do it in a piecemeal approach, as I've already said.
So I thank Mr Stefaniak for bringing this on for debate today. I hope that the government is listening to what it is that the community is saying and what it is that the Assembly is saying here today: we do need a complete overhaul of the way poker machine licences are allocated and of gambling in the ACT.
MS TUCKER(5.47): The Greens won't be supporting this bill. I notice Mr Stefaniak has, in his presentation, spoken a lot about the need for justice and equity. I believe that that call is really only looking at justice and equity from a particular perspective, which is equity for particular businesses. What the Greens are interested in is looking at a broader concept of equity.
I understand that some taverns are struggling. They claim that is because they don't have poker machines. I know that some small clubs who do have poker machines are struggling and are closing down. I also know that some taverns are doing very well. I acknowledge that the clubs are able to subsidise alcohol and food from the revenue from the poker machines. I acknowledge that creates a disadvantage for the taverns and hotels that can't compete with those sorts of prices.
I also want to get on the record that I am very concerned about the club industry generally in terms of what's happening to it-the size of the clubs. The concern I have is that really they're moving away from the community roots and the notion of the community club.
But I think it's important to note that these smaller clubs, even with poker machines, are also struggling and are closing down. So you have to see it as a broader issue about big and small as much as the question of having poker machines or not.