Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5173 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
We have got some wonderful sporting facilities-and some teams are being supported by sporting clubs-and other community activities as a result. Of course that is not to downplay problems of problem gambling or anything, but since 1976 probably the net benefits from poker machines to the territory and the revenue that has come from that have probably far outweighed some of the detrimental effects. Any form of gambling can be detrimental.
Yes, Ted, I have received benefits from poker machines and clubs as a politician. In fact, when Mrs Cross actually first bunged in this bill I thought, "Oh damn, if that's successful that's probably a little bit of extra money I might not get to assist and indeed that my party might not get too."You are quite right, Mr Quinlan. It might have been in about 1998 that I got about $2,000 from the Southern Cross Club. I can remember getting something from the Tuggeranong Rugby Club. It is a bit of a shame actually, but Royals, whom I was involved with for so many years, I don't think, gave me anything. But there you go. But I have actually got some money, and that is something that would dry up. He has rattled off the names of a few other members of my party who benefit-the party as a whole. Yes, that will dry up if this bill were successful.
One of the things in relation to this bill-and it is certainly something that we looked at very carefully, and I have some sympathy personally from where Mr Quinlan is coming from-is that the Labor Club, which was established in the 1980s, I think, does well; it gets a considerable amount of money from poker machine revenue. It has expanded. Obviously one of its aims is to support the Labor Party. Yes, the party has benefited.
You mentioned Mr Moore. He was very fond of saying this, but it was certainly something that regularly cropped up. Because of, I suppose, the very substantial donations that your local party actually gets-and I think it is more than 50 per cent regularly of your annual donations from any source towards the actual parliamentary party, the running of it and of funding election campaigns-there has been this perception, real or imagined, in this place of a conflict of interest.
Indeed conflict of interest was something that concerned other members of this Assembly. I am thinking of Mr Osborne who actually used to abstain from voting because he was retained as captain/coach, I think, by the West Belconnen Leagues Club. Once he ceased to be in that position, Mr Osborne then, I think, participated in poker machine debates. For whatever reason, he regarded himself as being in a conflict of interest situation because he was actually getting money from a licensed club that did have poker machines. I don't think Mr Osborne ever particularly moralised about poker machines one way or the other, but he did recognise a conflict of interest there.
I think the Labor Party in his town has been plagued, since the inception of the Assembly, with a conflict of interest arising from the fact that a very substantial portion of its funding does come from poker machines and from the series of licensed Labor clubs in this territory. So that obviously would cease, and I suppose that is a benefit of Mrs Cross' particular bill.
What is another benefit? We had a debate here last month on smoking. I think that was Mrs Cross' motion. There was a lot of argy bargy. The opposition would have liked until 2008 to phase it in, to help the businesses involved and the club industry who rely very much on poker machine revenue to provide the services they do and who were going to