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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2010) . . Page.. 2891 ..

look at ways to increase revenue when demands from the community about growing services continue to grow. I think the community understand that, and I have to say, Mr Smyth, that I have not had one letter, that I can recall, opposing the very modest increases in this budget—I will check that—outside of the change of use charge, on which I have had some. But even then I have not had “don’t do this”; I have had questions about when are you going to do it and what it means. I think the community understand and it is probably about time the Liberals did.

Gaming machines—legislation

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Gaming and Racing and relates to the proposed gaming machine amendment bill. The presentation of the bill has been postponed from the 2010 autumn sitting to the spring sitting. Minister, can you provide the Assembly with an update on how this bill is progressing and when it will be presented to the Assembly?

MR BARR: An element of that question clearly relates to seeking an announcement of government policy. So I will attempt to steer clear of that. However, I have been on the public record and was asked questions in the estimates process in relation to how the government intended to proceed with this legislation.

The government is committed to reforming our gaming machine legislation and we are conscious of a number of new dimensions in the policy debate, most particularly the Productivity Commission’s recent report. We will have a further update on the prevalence of problem gambling released by the ANU and funded by the commission in the near future. The government continues its negotiations with various stakeholders.

I think there are a number of important principles that need to be considered in this debate. Firstly, from my perspective, it is to ensure that harm minimisation is at the forefront of government policy in this area. We seek, where possible, to ensure the long-term viability of the licensed clubs sector in the territory but we also seek to ensure, through our reform process, that the level of community contributions from gaming machines is increased to give more of a return to the community from our community-based gaming model and to see a greater return to the community to support a range of important community activities that it would appear all in this debate are supportive of.

I would also like to see the territory move away from the position that we currently hold of having the most number of poker machines per capita of any jurisdiction in the country and that we respond to some of the issues that were raised in the Productivity Commission report, most particularly, as it stands, the recommendation in relation to gaming machines at the casino. The government has a longstanding position not to support that and, in an environment where we are seeking to reduce the number of poker machines in the territory, I do not believe it is appropriate to be seeking to add more machines into new venues.

Having said all of that, the process for further development of policy in this area will be done in negotiation with stakeholders and I will bring forward a bill to the Assembly in the spring sitting.

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