Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2518 ..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
Are we saying that they are less irresponsible than the big clubs? Are we saying that they do not really care about people in the community?
I think that is a slur on small clubs. I think that small tavern, club and hotel owners have a far better relationship with their clientele and patrons than the informal big clubs that we have in our city. It is a much easier place to make friends. Coming from the Old Dart, for me pubs were very much a place of meeting and befriending people. You did not have to have beer. I can go into a tavern next door to my husband's business and have a coffee or a sandwich; I do not have to sit there playing the gambling machines or drinking or smoking if I do not want to.
We have got to be a little bit sensible and not so precious-saying "This is definitely not"and, "We cannot do it"-bearing in mind the review that Ms Dundas has suggested would also be a good idea. I would have thought it much easier to fulfil our responsible gambling management at this level, at a community level, where mate looks after mate, rather than in some of the very large, and often impersonal, clubs where you can wave in and wave out and nobody knows you. I am a member of a couple of those clubs. You could drift in and drift out and gamble your life away, and nobody would really care.
A far greater duty of care is exercised by people in taverns because it is a place of community. They support the community that they are in. Ms Tucker alludes to the fact that people are more likely to gamble if the machine is near. That may be so in some cases. But then we go onto another tangent about heroin injecting rooms. Therein lies another little gem. I think we need to be careful when we talk about that too. Poker machines are a source of revenue, income and entertainment to many people. I have to laugh here because it is marvellously hypocritical of this government. They had a stab at me in relation to the Currong apartments scratchie scandal. How hypocritical. Come on, give me a break.
Ms Dundas raises an intelligent point, and I keep reiterating it: maybe it is time we had a review of the whole allocations matter. Where is the equity and fairness in this government's dealings with smaller business? Taverns and pubs are small businesses, and I have given some very good reasons why two upgraded and modern machines are not going to be the downfall of people. I was actually accused by our esteemed Chief Minister and minister for housing of being the downfall of people with a $5 scratchie. Well, surely the same applies-or does it not? Maybe not. We have moved the goalposts; that is probably right.
Smaller taverns can be more price competitive when they offset the cost of their meals, and Ms Tucker alluded to that. When you have got gaming revenue, it is easier to keep the cheaper meals. The bigger clubs have got it down pat; they can do it all the time. There are people I know who cannot make it by bus or car, and maybe they need to be able to walk a short distance to a club. Older people in our community need facilities like this where they can meet. It is a meeting place; it is a place where they can go.
If clubs cannot offer an alternative in terms of cheaper meals, I think that is sad. That is being discriminatory and inequitable. Do we want to be known as that? Again, I am not espousing the virtues of gambling or otherwise. That is people's choice. But if we