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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3960 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

protection measures, if implemented, have the potential to be more effective, with less inconvenience to recreational gamblers. As Ms Dundas pointed out, the ACT has more poker machines than all other jurisdictions.

Whenever there is this sort of motion, the response from the gambling industry is always, "We now have responsible services being implemented in all venues."The clubs have certainly picked up that they have responsible services. This is to be commended. However, I also see the reality. People counselling people who are experiencing problems with gambling say that there is only so much a venue operator can do. It ultimately comes down to individual choice. The question of access has got to be brought into that discussion, and the number of machines is obviously related to access.

I acknowledge that it is complex, so I am moving the amendment that has now been circulated in my name. I move the following amendment:

Omit "on the Government to empower the Gaming and Racing Commission to reduce", substitute "on the Gaming and Racing Commission to report on the costs and benefits of reducing".

I have pretty well spoken to that. I am interested to see what other members think of this amendment.

Amendment negatived.

MS DUNDAS (5.34), in reply: I was waiting to hear from the older parties about what they thought of Ms Tucker's amendment. Unfortunately, they remain silent. We will wait in mystery about why they thought having the Gaming and Racing Commission, which was set up to investigate the issue of gaming and racing in the ACT, do a report on the number of poker machines in the ACT is not necessary. The information would have been of great benefit, so I am disappointed to see that answer.

I will also address what my colleagues said in debate. This motion was not a knee-jerk reaction; it has actually been on the notice paper since March. It is about moving to address how we have continued to let poker machines in the ACT continue to grow in number. Mr Stefaniak himself pointed out that the cap of 5,200 was pretty much an arbitrary figure, found at the time. The figure of 3,000 is based on the per capita average across Australia, so there is a statistical underpinning to it.

Reducing the number of machines in the community supports the work being done by the government regarding harm minimisation. I recognise that the work the government is currently doing is groundbreaking and is starting to make a difference, but that does not mean we should stop there. We cannot continue to increase the number of machines in the community whilst having a harm minimisation message. We need to find the balance, and I think the balance of 5,200 machines with a harm minimisation message is not right. The cap should be lower, which is why I have moved the motion today. Harm minimisation and the reduction in the number of machines go hand in hand.

I am sorry the Treasurer feels resentful about some of the comments I made in my opening speech about harm minimisation, but that is what harm minimisation is about. It is about reducing reason and reducing access. I am glad to hear that the Treasurer is not a

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