Page 5523 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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they wanted some poker machines to assist their community, they will not get it under this bill. Say a Molonglo Rugby Union club started and they wanted to enjoy the success of previous clubs, for instance, like the Vikings Group, and have a club with poker machines to provide resources for their community; they cannot have it. That is my understanding under this bill. That is an enormous decision to take in two weeks or three weeks.

We need to talk to the club industry about it. For instance, if you want a new club in Molonglo, either somebody has to gather up the poker machines from their existing premises and move them to Molonglo under approval, or—if I have got it right, and I say again that I have not had the chance to read it—they need to move an entire premises. So shut one club down and move it to Molonglo or northern Gungahlin. Indeed, we do not know what other town centres may be in this position. Ten, 20, 30 years from now, Kowen may get up. If this act is still in place at that time, what will happen there?

We need to address these serious issues. I had a brief conversation with the Greens, but I am not sure where they are on this. I do not see that PAC would take an inordinate amount of time. I apologise to colleagues—I thought someone else was handling it and then it changed. Without pre-empting what a committee might do, I am sure PAC could reasonably convene and do a hearing early in February and report in either late February or early March. We could still pass the bill reasonably quickly.

Much of this has been waited for for five years. Much of it does not start until 1 January 2013. There is time for a quick but thorough process by a committee to look at a serious issue with serious implications for a very large industry in our city. I want to ask for members’ agreement that we send this bill off to the committee.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (11.52): Ultimately, of course, the timing of the passage of a piece of legislation is a matter for the Assembly. The government has been working closely with the industry and, indeed, key stakeholders on this legislation for quite a period of time, as Mr Smyth indicated.

I am relaxed about this matter. If the public accounts committee wishes to conduct an inquiry, so be it. Ultimately the Assembly will determine whether the legislation is considered sooner or later and is amended or not. That is a matter for the Assembly in its infinite wisdom.

Mr Smyth raised a number of issues, and I recognise, having had the benefit of one briefing at this stage, it would be difficult for him to be across the detail of everything that is proposed. I think it is important, though, to respond to one element—there is a cap on the number of machines in the territory. To the extent that there is a cap—and the legislature has spoken previously on that—that obviously restricts unlimited growth in the number of machines in the territory. The issues that Mr Smyth raised are pertinent under the current circumstances as much as they are under changes proposed in this legislation.

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