Page 2565 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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need a certain amount of regulation for the protection of other businesses and for the protection of tenants.” There are various levels of protection. I think the level of paperwork will always be a vexed question; we will never eliminate it to everybody’s satisfaction. There will still be paper. I heard a saying once that the paperless office will occur at just about the time as the paperless loo!

In relation to the convention centre, the government does intend to do up that convention centre but you have to remember that it is not ours. It a cheap shot—and I suppose that is fair in politics—to say that the government has been procrastinating on trying to get that job underway because that is not the case. We have been dealing with a very large international hotel group who play hardball, who initially wanted far more than we were prepared to give. They upped the ante; they wanted something like $50 million; they wanted to close the place down for 70 weeks. We needed to go through a whole cycle of negotiation. Had we said, “Okay, we will give them what they like in order to get the opposition, and a few of the other critics out there, off our backs,” we would have been scum, and the taxpayer would have been scum. I think we are heading towards a reasonable deal. I do not think it is particularly fantastic, but we are getting to a deal on that convention centre.

In relation to clubs and club taxes, first of all let me say that Professor Jan McMillan, who holds the chair of gambling studies at the ANU, has concluded, from what I think is fairly rudimentary research at this point, that the level of note acceptors available has a high degree of correlation with problem gaming. That was her conclusion, delivered at the annual general meeting of Clubs ACT in November last year. Until that is proven to be otherwise—we have a responsibility, and we will study this of course—

Mr Mulcahy: Have a look at South Australia; they don’t have notes.


Mr Mulcahy: So there are no problem gamblers?

MR QUINLAN: It is a matter of degree, I think. That was her conclusion. I refer to ATMs. It was also suggested in the review we are working from that we get rid of ATMs from clubs altogether. We did not do that. We said, “Do not put them in poker machine rooms; but do not penalise all the members.” We did that as a matter of judgment. The same rudimentary studies that Professor McMillan has done to date also indicated that that was probably the right decision. We are trying to find the balance. I have said to the club industry—and I will say it again—that poker machines are dangerous weapons; the poker machine of today is a very dangerous weapon, with 15 combinations. You can whack $50 through the modern poker machine in a very short time without really trying. People can blow quite an amount of money without really taking breath. So we have tried to strike that balance.

In relation to taxation, the taxation level that we have indicated we will apply was set at the equal lowest. The lowest taxation regime was in Victoria. We matched that and then took account of the community contributions we require of clubs and said, “Okay, our clubs will pay, including the community contribution, the lowest level of taxation in Australia but they will pay up to the next lowest.” I think that is pretty fair in a regime where clubs in the ACT have a monopoly.

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