Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2520 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
in accordance with the cap. It reserves 192 machines for taverns and hotels, all within the cap. That is hardly a proliferation.
She mentioned piece-by-piece legislation. I think she is supporting it-I am not too sure-and complained about that. Unfortunately, in this house quite a lot of things are done piece by piece. But this particular piece of legislation is simple, and it is eminently sensible. It relates back to sections put in an act about 19 years ago. It is an issue that has been around for that long.
Taverns and hotels have consistently sought access to up-to-date machines within the current legislation for premises with general licences-hotels with accommodation for 12 or more persons. That has been there for about 19 years. All this does is give them fair-go access to modern poker machines. Nothing more, nothing less. I do not think that is piecemeal; it is actually very basic.
I knew Ms Tucker was not going to support this, and I thank her for telling me that beforehand. She made a number of other points. She stated that, yes, there are some struggling hotels, some struggling taverns and some struggling clubs. Some are, some aren't. It is basically the same for clubs. So what is the thing there? I could tell her, to start with, that not all taverns or hotels would take up this offer anyway. There are some that, by the very nature of their business, would not want to go down this path. But it is there to enable them to have access to these machines. I want to make that point for her.
In terms of equity, we are dealing with little suburban taverns. We are not dealing with some of the trendy joints around town, which would not be remotely interested. We are dealing with struggling little suburban taverns. We are dealing with small hotels. We are dealing with six hotels that satisfy the accommodation criteria and, as I said when I introduced the bill last week, provide very important tourist accommodation services.
I gave the example of some visitors from New South Wales who visited the Gold Creek Federation Square tavern wanting a little flutter and moved on. Indeed, a number of people have gone to that establishment and walked out because there were no gaming machines there, and they went off to a nearby club. It is a question of fairness. It is a question of these businesses-which are very important for our tourism industry and for the suburbs, as Mrs Burke very capably said-being a community centre and a place where people go to meet with their friends. It is very important for them.
Ms Tucker talked about addiction and pokies being a particular problem. A gambling addict can be addicted to virtually anything and, yes, I suppose poker machines can be a problem. But to overcome the problems Ms Tucker talks about, you would need to ban poker machines totally. As long as there are some, if you are addicted you are going to go and play them.
I cannot really understand that argument from someone who supports a controlled heroin trial as a way of monitoring heroin addicts and keeping them alive as a bottom line. A corollary would be: if you are a gambling addict, at least if you are in a small place-be it a tavern, hotel or small club, where people know you and