Page 2625 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 28 June 2011

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The clubs, of course, have been quite open. They have put out their legal advice, and we will get to that particularly in the coming section. But it is important that we know exactly what is driving the government on this, because this may well be a clause that we have to come back and revisit in the future.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (11.48): The government will not be supporting Mr Smyth’s amendment. We believe in the provisions we have put forward in this legislation that require club constitutions to be consistent with gaming laws, and we believe this will prevent clubs from unknowingly encouraging unlawful activity.

The government is of the view that the operation of this provision will enable the commission to direct a club to change its constitution if it is inconsistent but give the club a specified time frame in which to do so. It is the government’s view, picking up on the points that Mr Smyth has just raised, that a club would then use that appropriate time frame to make amendments to their constitution through the usual provisions—that is, to go to their membership to make such amendments. But having this clause provides an opportunity, should a club be recalcitrant in this area, for the commission to take appropriate action. Therefore, the government supports the bill in its original form and will not be supporting the opposition amendment.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.49): The Greens will not be supporting either of the Liberal amendments. Gambling and gaming machines are, quite rightly, heavily regulated activities, and the Greens will not support it being any other way. There are significant risks and harms that come about from poker machines, and to suggest the commissioner should not be able to enforce a requirement that club constitutions must be consistent with gaming laws is not a cogent argument.

I understand the argument that members must have control, as they are, after all, their clubs, but that does not quite make sense in the context that the constitutions are only being amended to ensure they are consistent with gaming laws. There is no option but to require that the laws of this place are respected, and the proposed mechanism is the most prudent way of doing that. Clubs will be advised of the need to remedy a discrepancy, and the power for the commissioner to amend constitutions only kicks in after they fail to do so. To argue that there should be a discretion for club members to agree to follow the law simply does not make sense.

It should be noted that this is a reviewable decision and a club must be given a notice to correct itself before further action is taken by the commissioner. The alternative is, of course, that the commission take disciplinary action and prohibit a club from operating gaming machines. Surely the more logical thing to do is to have the commissioner correct the constitution where a club is unable to do so in a reasonable time.

I understand that an issue has been raised about the legality of this requirement given the requirements of the Corporations Act. The legal advice that was obtained by

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