Page 1552 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005
Without a ready ability for licenses to be transferred, we would maybe see a whole raft of clubs like the Canberra City Bowling Club, the Canberra south bowling club, the Yamba club and the royals club out of business or held up for transfer of ownership, to the point of jeopardising the transfer deals that are done. We are only talking about not requiring a social impact statement or study in cases where there is effectively a transfer of ownership and the whole structure in existence. From the external point of view, there will effectively be no change.
We appreciate concerns in relation to problem gambling. I have said before in this place that I think the code of practice that applies in the ACT has been recognised as world standard. It has been recognised as probably the best in the nation. It was certainly the first of the best, if it is not the best these days. I think we have a very sensible balance between the prohibitions and the requirements that apply to those organisations that benefit from poker machines directly and the controls on one side and the freedoms of individuals on the other. We will, of course, be voting for the bill to be passed in its entirety.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Clauses 1 to 8, by leave, taken together and agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 11, by leave, taken together.
DR FOSKEY: I will be opposing these three clauses. We oppose the proposed changes to section 32 of the Gaming Machine Act to contain clauses 9, 10 and 11 of the Gaming Machine Act Amendment Bill 2005. The proposed amendments would exclude applicants seeking to transfer a licence from one operator to another from undertaking a social impact assessment and prevent the Gambling and Racing Commission from considering social impact assessments and submissions when deciding to issue an initial licence in order to allow a transfer.
We believe that a transfer of a licence is an opportune time to conduct a social impact assessment and that it is appropriate for the Gambling and Racing Commission to consider an assessment before approving the transfer of a licence. There is no reason why an applicant seeking to secure an existing licence should not be subject to the same requirements as an applicant for a new licence. Some will argue that, in the majority of cases, the number of gaming machines, their type and location will not change as a result of a licence transfer and that there is therefore no need for a social impact assessment.
We have also heard the argument that conducting a social impact assessment is an impost on potential applicants for a transfer that may deter them from merging or acquiring a club, and that this may result in the loss of social facilities in the community. However, there are circumstances where the number of gaming machines might change following a transfer of the license. An example of this is the gaming licence issued to the Labor club for operating gaming machines at the swimming centre at Belconnen.