Page 1553 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

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We understand that this licence was issued prior to the social impact assessment requirements being introduced, despite substantial community opposition. To date no gaming machines have been installed at this facility. Any transfer of the licence to a new operator would be an opportune time to review the appropriateness of this licence being issued, and to examine the impact of gaming machines being installed in this facility.

It would also be useful for any new operator to hear community concerns about introducing gaming machines at the pool, and for the Gambling and Racing Commission to consider community submissions on the matter. In view of the rather alarming statistics about gambling amongst young people, I think this is particularly pertinent point.

Ideally we would like to see gaming licences issued for a maximum of five years and be subject to review. This was a recommendation of the Gambling and Racing Commission’s review of the Gaming Machine Act conducted in 2002. The government, in its response to the review, did not support the recommendation. We assume this position has not changed. We have not heard that it has changed.

In the absence of time-limited licence approvals, the conduct of social impact assessments when applicants seek a transfer of licence creates an important opportunity to review the social impact of gaming within the local community. Furthermore, there is potential to use the social impact assessment to examine whether the change of ownership itself might have a detrimental impact on the use of the facility and the way in which gaming is promoted to the local community. It could also be used to examine any potential impact on specific groups, including cultural groups and young people. We recognise that this would require some amendment to the regulations governing social impact assessments—Gaming Machine Regulations part 3, 9-12.

Retaining the requirement of a social impact assessment is not likely to affect a large number of gaming machine operators. There are very few licence transfers each year. The estimate provided to us by the Gambling and Racing Commission is that, over the past three months, there have been three transfers, and this is fairly typical. Furthermore, Clubs ACT advises that it does not anticipate significant numbers of mergers or acquisitions in the foreseeable future. It is therefore reasonable to assume that this requirement is not likely to affect large numbers of licence applicants.

To date, just seven social impact assessments have been conducted—primarily by taverns applying for a gaming licence to operate two class B machines, and a small number of hotels. No clubs in the ACT have yet undertaken an assessment. There is no clear evidence that conducting an assessment is a substantial burden to operators.

Removing the requirement to undertake a social impact assessment from the process of considering an application for the transfer of a gaming machine licence from one operator to another will provide a minor benefit to operators at the cost of a very real opportunity to review the needs of the local community.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (4.42): I would like to say a few words in support of these clauses.

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