Page 1551 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

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unintended consequences of the Gaming Machine Act amendments of 2004. However, I believe that clauses 9, 10 and 11 constitute a more significant change—a change that should not occur.

The ACT Greens believe that the government should take every opportunity to support the socially responsible provision of gaming services and maximise harm minimisation strategies for people with gambling problems. Problem gambling is very serious here in the ACT. Recent research indicates that there are more than 5,000 problem gamblers in the ACT, and for every problem gambler an estimated five to 10 other people can be affected.

Proximity of gaming venues to places of community congregation such as shopping centres and the close location of gaming venues to residential areas of relative socio-economic disadvantage are factors influencing gambler behaviour, influencing both the frequency with which people use gaming machines and the amount spent on them.

The particular character of the gambling and social context in Canberra, especially the centrality of clubs to community life and convenient access to gambling, has contributed to the development of gambling problems for people who experience social isolation or a period of personal stress.

Problem gambling is a serious issue amongst young people, with an estimated four per cent of secondary students identified as problem gamblers—double the rate amongst adults. Changes to the Gaming Machine Act last year saw the introduction of important social impact assessments. As the government stated at the time:

The social impact requirements form part of an overall strategy for harm minimisation and are applicable to all applicants for gaming machines. These measures are consistent with the code of practice for gambling operators and will significantly address the risks to minors and others in the community associated with the issue of gaming machine licences.

That is a quote from Mr Quinlan from Hansard of 10 February 2004. We oppose the proposed changes to section 32 of the Gaming Machine Act contained in clauses 9, 10 and 11 of the Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2005. I will leave it there and speak to that further in the detail stage.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (4.33), in reply: I thank the house for its support of the bill, in the main. Dr Foskey opposes a couple of the clauses.

I do not think the fears you have, Dr Foskey, are well founded. We are talking only about the transfer of licenses that are already in place which have all been subject to social impact examination before. We know there is movement within the club industry and, in fact, many of the club premises, club facilities and club services survive only because there has been transfer of ownership. It has become the case that it is the well-managed clubs and the clubs that can manage to a certain size and therefore introduce economies of scale into their operations that are, in the main, surviving.

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