Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2556 ..
Mr Speaker, I commend the bill and would urge Assembly members to vote against the amendment.
MR STEFANIAK(12.08): Mr Speaker, I have listened with interest to this debate. I also think it is rather dangerous for any governments to get too addicted to gambling revenue and I think my colleague, Mr Smyth, made some very good points in relation to that.
I would like to impress upon the Treasurer another way of ensuring that we maximise existing revenue from gaming. I understand that New South Wales, I think Victoria and certainly several other states link, through technology, the returns from machines to their relevant gaming and racing commissions. I do not think it would be difficult to link, by way of InTACT, returns from machines in the ACT. This would be an electronic way of ensuring that returns are recorded automatically.
I think that, in itself, would probably raise more revenue perhaps than a 2 per cent increase from 25 to 27 per cent. I just throw that one in for the government to consider. I think that is a much more efficient way of doing things. It would be ultimately easier for everyone involved, including both the commissioner and, of course, the clubs themselves.
MR QUINLAN(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (12.10), in reply: I thank members for their support, or partial support, of the bill. If only the ACT had the breadth of taxation avenues that would allow us to strike out a number of taxes, as some states have done here and there. But we are all aware that we have probably the narrowest tax base in Australia.
Just focusing on the clubs, I am a bit intrigued by what has been said. Mr Smyth is now, I think, concerned about the profitability levels of clubs that take over $600,000 per annum in gaming machine revenue. I think that really is a matter for them. I have had a little experience in the industry, and if you are in that area then, really, your fate is in your own hands in terms of how you manage and how you don't.
In debate yesterday a couple of points were made that in fact clubs had a competitive edge over pubs and taverns and could offer cheaper food prices and lower drink prices, and that that was unfair to the taverns. Very recently, New South Wales upped their taxation rate on poker machines, and the immediate reaction of the club industry was, "We'll have to put the price of food and drink up."
So there is, I think, a little inconsistency in what the opposition said. This is not unusual these days-they need to appeal to every jurisdiction they can find. Knowing that this would not go very far, it is probably reasonable and sensible politically for the Liberals to oppose this tax and claim publicly that they have done so. This is-and they know it-a very hollow gesture.
While I am talking about pubs and taverns, I would like to digress a little and talk about the pollyanna picture that Mrs Burke painted yesterday of the family taverns and the lifestyle within the taverns. Mrs Burke thinks that pokies are okay in taverns and that