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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2554 ..



slug on the community. It is a quiet tax and therefore is less likely to be of concern to the broader community.

Because gambling taxes go into consolidated revenue they inherently are linked to schools and hospitals, and this shows the cooption of government with the gambling industry. What the gambling industry in the United States has done is even more obvious. In an attempt to justify their existence, the gambling industry basically persuaded the elected representatives to agree with them that revenue from gambling would be hypothecated to particular social functions, such as education or health. The education and health sectors were coopted by the gambling industries because they were reliant on revenue from gambling to fund their areas.

In a way this is what is happening here because taxes, and increases in taxes, on gambling revenue go into consolidated revenue. It would be much better to see money that is taken out of gambling used for certain purposes. Over the years I have proposed that money that comes from gambling revenue should be related to or hypothecated to the social harm that comes from that activity. Unfortunately, the proposal to have a levy across all gambling still has not been picked up by the Gambling and Racing Commission or the government, even though it is generally supported in the community. I have never had a very negative response, even from clubs, on that. That would be a better way than what is now before us of increasing the social commitment of the clubs .

I would like again to briefly go through the impacts of problem gambling and the broader costs on our society. These consequences have been documented and they are: fraud in the workplace, depression, anxiety, suicide, family and relationship breakdown, over-commitment on credit cards, borrowing from family and friends never repaid, losing family home, evictions, no money for basic services, including feeding children, harassment by creditors, bankruptcy with all its consequences, family violence, communities under pressure to provide services for those affected, and so on.

A gambling tax is certainly an inequitable form of revenue. As I have said many times, problem gambling has a greater impact on people on lower incomes. It would be good if the Commonwealth could pay more attention to the debates on this issue that are occurring in parliaments right around Australia and change the requirement that it places on states to earn a certain amount by way of gambling tax. I will not be supporting reducing funding but certainly it is very clear that the Commonwealth is failing the Australian community in the current approach it is taking in requiring states and territories to earn a certain amount of money by way of gambling taxes.


(12.03): Mr Speaker, with this revenue bill we sink a little lower by increasing our dependence on gambling taxes and going further in the direction of Victoria. I am concerned that as gambling revenue rises as a proportion of our own source revenue, our addiction to this revenue becomes harder to shake.

I wanted to see a freeze on the number of poker machine licences but the government and Liberal Party were unwilling to take that step. I worry that this government will never seriously attempt to tackle problem gambling, most of which is focused on poker machines, if the ACT budget becomes more dependent on gambling revenue. However, I recognise that the federal government must take some, if not most, of the responsibility for our dependence on gambling revenue.

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