Page 281 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012
amendments I made that we have actually modified an incorrect section. So rather than increasing the number of machines whereby a club can have no limit on ATM withdrawals, we actually amended the section that would allow the number of machines that can be transferred without an impact statement being done. I thank members for their assistance in correcting what would appear to be my mistake. With that, we would support the bill.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.39): I welcome Mr Smyth’s honest assessment of why we are here today. On the one hand this is a simple bill to repair a straightforward mistake, as Mr Smyth has noted. That mistake we believe came about because of the government’s change of policy during the passage of the bill. There are some different interpretations around. We do not agree with that change. I think that is the important point here.
The bill effectively has two parts. The first is that it will reduce the threshold for a social impact assessment, and we agree with that. As members will recall from the debate, the Greens previously opposed the bill that we are now amending on the basis that it effectively allowed poker machine licence holders to maximise the use of their machines, with no mechanism to reduce the prevalence of the machines, and that the introduction of the ATM limit, whilst a good move that we supported, did not offset the overall negative impact of the changes in the bill.
The Greens are concerned that the transfer scheme will allow for the creeping shift of machines to the detriment of local communities and people who suffer from a gambling addiction. For this reason the Greens will support the first amendment because we think that the commissioner should be fully assessing machine transfers and reducing the number of machines to trigger that assessment and is a good thing.
In relation to the second amendment, the Greens do not believe that we should ever be winding back harm minimisation measures. The Greens’ view is that every poker machine licence holder should be subject to the ATM withdrawal cap and there should be no exemptions. We certainly cannot agree to the increase to an exemption for 20 machines.
Restricting access to cash in venues is seen as an important harm minimisation measure. In fact, in Victoria there is a total prohibition on ATMs in poker machine venues. The Productivity Commission report said that “imposing a $250 daily cash withdrawal limit in gaming venues would help some problem gamblers”. It seems from evidence considered by that inquiry that it is in fact typically the more seriously affected problem gamblers that this measure helps.
The 2006 New South Wales prevalence study revealed that the problem gambling group was nearly nine times as likely to use ATMs to withdraw money for gambling compared with gaming machine players overall. Even Clubs Australia in their submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry said, “Easy, proximate access to cash may exacerbate the amount lost in a particular gambling session.”
The Greens have consistently argued that we should be doing everything we can to combat problem gambling. Winding back what is recognised as an effective harm