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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4344 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

members of the community. The ACT government needs to continue to discourage Canberrans from taking up smoking and assist those who wish to quit, and this bill is one step in that direction.

It is also important to look specifically at how this measure will impact on clubs. We have had the debate again and again about gambling addiction and the impact of poker machines in the ACT. Removing smoking from the same venues as poker machines will have a great health impact on those people who have dual addictions-that of gambling and smoking. It would mean that they will have to go outside to have their cigarette and move away from poker machines.

Today debate on the starting point of what we all agree needs to happen has been bogged down. The issue of the date at which exemptions will no longer be valid is one of the points that we debated around the corridors this morning. I have to say that the process of reaching agreement on the arrangements in this bill has degenerated into high farce.

I feel that things would have been quicker, simpler and more effective if all members, including the minister, had been willing to sit down and objectively discuss the method and timeframe for ending exemptions. Rather, we have seen a piece by piece approach with conversations taking place back and forth, when really we could have just all sat down at the same time to work this through.

However, I am glad to see the minister's amendment on the table and his public announcement today that if his amendment is successful the government will support this bill, which will have an end date of December 2006. I note that this is only one month sooner than what was proposed by Mrs Cross this morning but I am keen to see smoking phased out as soon as is practicable-and the sooner the better, even if that is still only by one month.

It is important to have this debate today because exemptions are still being granted. I know that there is no flexibility for the minister to not grant exemptions if all the criteria are met. But with this bill in place and with an end date that we can all aim towards, we can look at how many exemptions are operating and we can put a check on the number of exemptions that are continuing to be granted.

If we did not have this debate today then by the time we got around to having it in February it is quite possible that the earliest possible end date of the exemptions would have blown out to the middle of 2007, possible the end of 2007, depending on the number of exemptions that would have been granted in the next three months. So I think it is important to get this piece of legislation passed, to have quite clearly on the record the Assembly's view that smoking should be prohibited in enclosed public places, and that we would like that to happen as soon as practicable.

MRS CROSS (4.45), in reply: Firstly, Mr Speaker, I would like to thank members for their support on this very important health issue. Secondly, I would like to mention that I am pleased to find that at the 11th hour this minister and the government are showing a keen interest in this bill.

I am fully aware of the dedication of some members with the respect to smoking issues; and of your history, Mr Speaker, in particular. We are all aware of the statistics and the

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