Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5178 ..
Mr Corbell (continuing):
I am disappointed that we are not going to have a debate on those amendments and I am disappointed that we are not looking at this issue in the right frame of mind. I again call on the government to get a move on with its gaming machine review and put some legislation on the table so we can understand what it is the government wants, instead of listening to it simply shouting down everybody else's suggestions.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (9.53): Mr Speaker, I rise in the debate tonight to support my colleague the Treasurer, who outlined why the premise of this bill is a false and absurd one, and why members should not support its passage this evening. The premise is false and absurd because it is that there is some conflict of interest that requires the Assembly to prohibit the donation of money that comes from poker machines to political parties.
In a democracy, Mr Speaker, this approach is unprecedented because the accepted approach to date has been that the safeguard is disclosure of the donation. That is why we have the reporting requirements in the Electoral Act and that is why we have in the ACT the additional requirement of disclosure in relation to licensed clubs through the Gambling and Racing Commission.
We might have arguments about what the thresholds are that require disclosure, but the accepted principle to date has been that the safeguard against conflict of interest, and against donations exercising undue pressure on or obtaining advantage from a particular party, is disclosure. However, what the Democrats, Mrs Cross and the Liberals are saying tonight is this: disclosure is not good enough when it comes to this type of money. When it comes to gaming machine revenue, donations from licensed clubs, it must be banned.
However, they are not consistent in their approach and that is why the proposition is absurd. If there is the capacity to unduly influence government, any government, through money that comes from gaming machines, there is equally the capacity for undue influence to be exercised as a result of any other political donation-for example, a political donation from a developer.
We know that developers make donations to both major political parties in the ACT and they are disclosed. However, if we believe that undue influence can be gained through the use of money from licensed clubs when it comes to issues of gaming, surely we would also believe that there is the capacity for developers who make donations to gain an undue influence on planning issues. We are not carrying that logic through. Mrs Cross and the Democrats are not consistent in their approach.
If donations cause undue influence, they should be banned. However, you should not take the approach that one type of money, one type of donation, causes undue influence but others do not. That is the absurd and false premise on which this legislation is based.
Mr Speaker, I want to reiterate the point that my colleague Mr Quinlan made when he said that we are all just arguing about how pregnant we are, with the notable exception of the Greens. It is worth highlighting Ms Dundas's very weak defence when it came to the money-which, embarrassingly, she has had to admit today-that her party has received from entities associated with gambling.