Page 3883 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.58): In the one minute and 14 seconds remaining to me, I want to conclude by saying that poker machines play a very important and potent role in elections in the ACT. The issue for the people of the ACT is that elections in the ACT are substantially funded by poker machine revenues. This creates a substantial conflict of interest, which is why we should be having this referral under the standing orders.

I notice that incoming Senator Xenophon has asked the Prime Minister himself to address the issue of funding of the ALP, particularly in the ACT. It is an important issue and one that is very important to the fabric of the ACT community. The ACT Labor Party fights its elections and has come to power on the back of people who have a gambling problem. Young men, generally unskilled or lightly skilled, the people who are the frequenters of the Labor Club, are the people most likely to have a gambling problem. The people who are supposed to be looking after the workers are, in fact, coming to power on their backs. This is why this matter needs to be referred to the admin and procedure committee.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.00), in reply: This is an ongoing issue that I think has probably affected the Assembly since the Assembly started in 1989. One way to resolve the issue is simply to refer the standing order to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure.

It is quite clear, given the interest in the media over the last 12 months or so, particularly on the issue as it was raised by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Rudd, that there is enormous concern in this country about problem gambling and governments receiving revenue from it. We have all seen the explosion of poker machine expansion throughout Victoria and New South Wales, and it is interesting to go back to the comments of Mr Tim Costello, reported in the Canberra Times. He said that ACT Labor’s dependence on poker machine revenue meant it could not make the right decisions about gaming. There is a highly respected individual who is well known for his caring and compassionate view of the world saying that you cannot have a government making reasonable decisions when it is influenced by the fact that it relies on gambling revenue.

You might recall the time, Mr Speaker, when the South Sydney Leagues Club had just got rid of their poker machines. Mr Costello went on to say that Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court showed far greater moral leadership than Jon Stanhope. How can they get it and someone who is elected to government for all does not? That is at the nub of this.

The Labor Party receives donations from the Labor Club in the order of $300,000. Clubcare’s latest annual report showed that it received just $300,000 from 20 clubs combined. There is the nub of the problem. We have clubs contributing to help with problem gambling and yet the majority of money that comes out of the Labor Club organisation goes straight to the Labor Party to run its campaigns.

I think it is very important that these issues are resolved. As I said when I introduced this motion, when Mr Osborne was a member here, because he actually received a

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