Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 26 August 2009) . . Page.. 3652 ..
The intention for allocating gaming machine licences according to that presentation speech by the former Treasurer is quite clear.
The concomitant of this premise is that the benefits that flow from operating poker machines must remain within the community. The operation of any club which has poker machines must be based in the community, the revenue generated by a club must be used for the benefit of the community, and any changes to the operation of a club must be approved ultimately by the membership, free of influence—that is, by the broad base, the community base, of that club. The licensees of poker machines are part of the community, and the community has a right—and also a responsibility, as well as an expectation—to make sure that the activities of these licensees are appropriate.
That brings me to the purpose of the bill. In recent weeks, the Canberra community has seen the spectacle of one of our major clubs, the Canberra Labor Club Group, proposing the sale and effective transfer of its gaming machine licences to another club. When the general essence of this transaction became known, there were expressions of concern from within the community. These concerns were largely based on the nature of the transaction and, in particular, the benefits that would flow to the community from the transaction.
It is now a matter of history that the transaction has been abandoned. Nevertheless, as the transaction progressed, even more serious issues were raised about the transaction. They were not raised by the Canberra Liberals; they were not raised in a political context. They were raised by the president of the board of the Canberra Labor Club Group himself.
These issues have been considered serious enough for an inquiry into the transaction being initiated by the Gambling and Racing Commission. These issues cover things like whether the gaming act has been breached, taxation concerns and whether corporate law has been breached.
As these are serious issues, the opposition has been concerned to ensure that decisions are not made on gaming machine licences until the commission has completed its inquiry—indeed, until the Assembly has had time to look at that inquiry and discuss its implications. It is therefore essential that all the circumstances of this transaction are examined independently.
This bill will make sure that there is an opportunity for the lessons that the commission identifies as arising from this transaction to be taken into account in the administration of the relevant legislation—in particular, the administration of gaming machine licences. Consequently, we do not want to see any applications with respect to gaming machine licences applied for after today decided during this inquiry period.
This bill will preclude any application in relation to gaming machine licences from being made from today until the end of December this year. We consider that this action is essential to ensure the integrity of the process involved in dealing with gaming machine licences. I commend the bill to the Assembly.