Page 616 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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reduction in gaming revenue is in itself a bad thing if that reduction also reflected less problem gambling and less consumption of tobacco. This would make it a very good thing.

I will be supporting the passage of this bill because at least it will clarify the position. I look forward to seeing the regulation that defines an unenclosed place when government sees fit to bring it forward. I challenge the government and its agencies to provide the public with the scientific health information that underpins its policy decision.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development) (4.51), in reply: I thank the opposition for their support and I thank the Greens for their support. I will not make too many comments overall.

Let me just say in responding to the pokie regime, for the benefit of Dr Foskey, I think it is reasonably well recognised that the ACT has the best code of practice in Australia in relation to poker machines. We have been through a process of doing that in concert with the industry and we will continue to work with the industry. We will not become totally autocratic in relation to the industry in regard to smoking.

Australia is recognised as probably one of the leading nations in terms of the prohibitions on smoking. The ACT has previously led the states and territories on smoking prohibitions introduced by a previous Labor government years ago and we will continue to move with the times. At the same time, we do not intend to be totally prohibitive overnight. All we want to do is to protect the public from smoking. At this point in time, we have not entered into the process of totally protecting individuals from themselves. I am certain that one day smoking, effectively, unless you are in your own bubble at home, will be banned anyway. But that will be a matter of progress, just like the changes that have taken place so far.

In terms of setting regulations—and regulations being bad and legislation being good—I don’t quite follow the logic of that and how somehow a regulation that has to be signed by a minister confers far more power on administrators than does the compilation of legislation. We do not actually write all the legislation ourselves; we do have the administration writing it, advising us and compiling it. The process of regulation means that you have a workable piece of legislation that can be adapted from time to time and probably will be.

The regulations are generally disallowable instruments and will come before the parliament. This government happens to have a majority, so it is highly probable that, if we write a regulation, it will actually get through the parliament. But that is going to be the case with any government with a majority. So I fail to see that logic at all.

Dr Foskey says that it is not urgent, but I have to say that there is a certain degree of urgency involved in this. There are businesses, particularly clubs, that are now taking a quite significant hit under the poker machine code of practice and legislation that I mentioned earlier, particularly in relation to note acceptors. Poker machine takings are down. Clubs do not have a god-given right to unlimited poker machine revenue in perpetuity but, on the other hand, I think they do have a right not to be wiped out overnight. The experience with smoking has been that there is a dip in gaming machine

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