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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3959 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

I would have far more respect for a proposition today of total prohibition because gambling is bad than for this halfway house of "Gambling is sort of bad. Therefore, we will sort of reduce it,"-and not because we have got some expert base for that. What we have is recommendations from the Productivity Commission that say it is not about prohibition; it is about education, help and management. Can we take an adult view of this, please?

MS TUCKER (5.28): Sorry, members. I am just getting-

MR SPEAKER: You do not look very sorry.

MS TUCKER: What do you want me to do-cry? I am really sorry. I have been listening to this debate, and I can see that Ms Dundas' motion is not going to be successful. I have some sympathy with it, so I am getting an amendment circulated, which I will sign, to change the motion so that it says instead that we ask the Gambling and Racing Commission to report back to the Assembly on the costs and benefits of bringing the number of gaming machines into line with the per capita average. I hear what Mr Quinlan is saying that some progress is being made, and we do not know whether or not caps are really useful, and so on. But the reason we have a Gambling and Racing Commission is to do that kind of research.

Ms Dundas has put forward an interesting idea. Why not ask the Gambling and Racing Commission to do that work so that the Assembly is better informed on this issue? Maybe then we will get a different response. It is important to have that understanding. Obviously, I support the notion of a cap. I was the one that originally initiated it here because we seem to be extremely oversupplied and problems have resulted from too much gambling, on poker machines in particular.

Research on the influences of problem gambling has shown that accessibility, proximity and opening hours are important aspects in the reduction in prevalence of problem gambling. Reducing the overall number of machines available is not among the most important aspects on its own, but it will do a lot as part of an overall strategy-this is the understanding-and it is important to look at it.

When discussing this proposal in a different form in the past, I heard the argument that it would be unfair to people in new suburbs, who would then be without hope of getting a club. The idea is that clubs provide social services and that people want to be able to gamble locally. I do not agree with that. We do not have a right to gaming machines, and without limits it is difficult for people with a problem to control their gambling.

An example in Western Australia is also instructive. This is, of course, a very different community. Western Australia does not have gaming machines except for in one location: the casino in Perth. As a result, they have a much lower rate of problem gambling and a much lower per capita rate of expenditure and losses on gambling. But Western Australia does manage to have clubs, which provide a forum for people to get together in common interest and which provide a licensed venue.

The Productivity Commission found that caps on gaming machine numbers can help reduce accessibility and thus problem gambling. However, more targeted consumer

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