Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3956 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Ms Tucker has repeatedly brought to the attention of the Assembly the idea, newly emerging from research, that proximity of the gaming venue to a person's home is a high indicator of the level of problem gambling. Perhaps we need to look at greater regulation of the location of gambling machines to stop them being introduced into new areas and to limit or reduce the presence of poker machines in our suburbs.

Finally, we have to reassess the role that poker machines have in the territory. I often hear that poker machines are just another form of entertainment, are good for the economy and provide pleasure and an escape from the drudgery of everyday life. However, I think we need to examine more closely what type of social environment we are encouraging when we allow this type of machine to proliferate.

Poker machines are played alone and involve no human interaction whatsoever. They involve no physical exercise, which we have already discussed today. There is no intellectual stimulation and they tend to remove and isolate people from their families and friends. Apart from the negative effects of problem gambling, are poker machines really the type of entertainment we wish to encourage in the ACT?

With this motion I call on the government to start the ball rolling in reducing the number of machines we have in the community. The cap is currently set far above the national average, and we are fast approaching that cap, meaning that there are no more machines to be distributed. We need the work to be done so we can do the analysis of why we have so many machines in our community and how they are being utilised, how we can more closely regulate the operation of a licence, how we can move machines around and what it is we are trying to achieve by having a pokie industry in the ACT.

This work needs to start soon so that we see a reduction in the number of poker machines and hence a reduction in the number of problem gamblers in the ACT. At the moment, there is one poker machine for every problem gambler in the territory. That is a disturbing statistic and one that we need to address as soon as possible. I hope the Assembly is supportive of this motion and of the work commencing on the poker machine industry in the ACT to bring it back into line with the national average and to address the problems that having so many poker machines in the community produces.

MR STEFANIAK (5.16): Mr Quinlan told me he will go for 10 minutes, and I do not intend to go that long on this motion. Tomorrow the government will be bringing in its response to the Gaming and Racing Commission, and it would be sensible if we had a look at that before giving knee-jerk reactions and picking an arbitrary figure.

Ms Dundas, the 5,200 had a bit of arbitrariness about it when it was picked. It was more than what there was at the time. It was probably a realistic figure at the time. You are quite correct that, with the passage of time, there is pressure on that particular cap. There are some strong arguments both ways about whether it should be reduced or increased.

Your motion calls on the government to empower the Gaming and Racing Commission to reduce the current number of gaming machines in the ACT. My initial reaction is that it is better as the province of the Assembly than the Gaming and Racing Commission. The Gaming and Racing Commission should by all means advise, have input and

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .