Page 125 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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Wednesday, 8 December 2004

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2004 (No 4)

Mr Stefaniak, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.31): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This bill is brought before the Assembly to ensure that what appears to have been an anomaly in the recently passed gaming machine legislation does not have a serious effect on the operation of many of our very successful and community-minded licensed clubs. I understood that there might be some further amendments to other things coming from the government, but I think it is important to put this bill on the table today because of a problem that has arisen.

In the last Assembly we passed some landmark legislation in relation to gaming in the territory. That was done largely on a bipartisan basis and has been proved to be effective. It was a big bill but, in the course of the drafting of the bill—and there were large numbers of attempts to get it right before the final bill was tabled—there were a couple of matters inadvertently left in the bill. One of those relates to section 14 of the bill.

I understand that Clubs ACT has written to both the government and the opposition, and probably to the crossbench too, in relation to this. One of their concerns was the matters referred to in sections 14 (1) (c), (d) and (e) of the current act, relating to the appointment of committee members for clubs. The existing nomination process was recognised under section 30G of the old Gaming Machine Act of 1987, but that effectively was not repeated—it seems by inadvertence—in the 2004 act.

In fact, in the new sections 14 (1) (c), (d) and (e) the commission has been given grounds to refuse a licence, or indeed to cancel a licence—you can also read it in section 55—where the election of the committee can be influenced by someone who is not a voting member, or all the committee members do not have complete control over the election of all of the members of the committee, or each voting member does not have an equal right to nominate or otherwise choose people for the election of the committee.

I think the specific problems there are in the last two dot points. Many of the clubs’ current processes for nominations, which are falling due now, do not meet the second and third requirements. The commission has a discretion therefore, on that ground alone, to refuse a gaming machine licence. I understand that this problem has also been raised with the government. The basic problem is that, if this section is just left to stand as it is, it would put bona fide clubs in an intolerable situation, where their compliance is subject to bureaucratic fiat. In essence this means that, for example, the Vikings group would

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