Page 350 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 12 February 2013
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.17): I would like to start by indicating that I intend to support the passing of the Racing Amendment Bill 2012. The bill devolves responsibility for the collection and administration of race field information charges from the industry regulator to the industry itself—namely, from the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission to the three controlling bodies defined in the act.
These changes will bring the ACT into line with other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales and Victoria. My office has been in touch with the Victorian regulator, who has advised that Victoria has had similar legislation in place since 2005 with no significant problems arising from its operation. I think these changes are a sensible move that is likely to free up the resources of the Gambling and Racing Commission and allow them to be directed elsewhere.
My one concern might have been that the controlling body set too high a fee for the use of race field information. However, I do feel confident that the ACT’s bookies will be able to speak up for themselves if they feel they are paying too much. The changes rightly provide for a transitional period during which the industry and the government will no doubt be alert for any emerging problems. Given the High Court’s decision regarding similar legislation in New South Wales, I see no reason to oppose these amendments. I will, therefore, be giving my support to the bill.
MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Disability, Children and Young People, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (10.18), in reply: The bill changes the existing race field information charge scheme. The changes enable the racing clubs to directly set and collect race field information charges from wagering operators while also ensuring the integrity of the scheme is maintained. The government in its earlier response to the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission investigation into the ACT racing industry agreed to urgently assess the need for amendments to the current scheme in light of a High Court decision in New South Wales and subsequent submissions from the industry. This assessment included consideration of other jurisdictions’ approaches to ensure that the territory maintains an appropriate and adequate payment scheme.
The proposed amendments will allow three controlling bodies—the thoroughbred racing, the harness racing and the greyhound racing clubs—to directly set and collect race field information charges from wagering operators. How the quantum is set for race field information charges will be at the discretion of the controlling body. The new arrangements mean that the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission will no longer play a direct role in the administration of the race field information charge scheme. However, the proposed amendments do not affect the commission’s broader responsibility for licensing wagering operators in the ACT.
The changes seek to reflect the best practice of similar legislation in Victoria and particularly New South Wales. To maintain the integrity of the scheme and to ensure new arrangements are appropriately supported throughout the transition period, the bill provides transitional arrangements. Under these transitional arrangements the existing role of the Gambling and Racing Commission in assessing the liability of