Page 3175 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013
I also note that during that exchange I took a question on notice, which I will reply to in due course.
MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister Burch. In relation to the appropriation bill, we are up to part 1.17, ACT Gambling and Racing Commission. The question is that the proposed expenditure of $4,451,000 net costs of outputs totalling $4,451,000 be agreed to.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (7.33): The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission performs a very important function in the way that we control gaming and racing in the ACT. I think we are all aware that there are a number of issues facing gaming and racing over the next couple of years.
One of the issues we discussed in the estimates committee was the offer of Casino Canberra to the government to surrender a block of land—it is part of their lease—that exists between their current building and the National Convention Centre and whether or not that was being progressed. The minister told us that yes, it was—that the government was looking at the purchase of that block of land with a view to extending the Convention Centre.
I will just remind members that in 2007 we upgraded the Convention Centre in a temporary manner. It was more to become compliant with OH&S and give the outside a bit of freshening up; it really did not add to the capacity. I would just like to put on record a concern that any minor extension to the exhibition hall in no way negates the need for a new convention centre in this city. If that is the government’s holding strategy while we continue to procrastinate on the provision of new business infrastructure in this city, I would be very concerned.
Some of the other issues that we looked at were research into gambling commissioned by the commission; the collapse of Sports Alive in the ACT and whether there was any liability or negligence on behalf of the commission. The commission spoke about how they conducted their audits and the fact that they were misled by the owners of Sports Alive. They said that really, without being inside the organisation continually, it would be impossible to detect the way the fraud was being perpetrated. That will play itself out in the courts in Victoria, I understand.
There were a number of other issues that were discussed. There was the change from Lifeline to the services now provided by Mission Australia. We had some questions on the review of the gaming act in relation to newsagencies selling lottery tickets. Currently, under the act, if you work in a newsagency or own a newsagency or a gaming outlet that sells lottery tickets, you cannot buy them off yourself. So if you want to send dad a $5 lottery ticket for his birthday, you have got to go to the next suburb and purchase it there. A number of people have been asking me about the outcome of that; it would be nice if the minister could give us an update on where that is.
With that, let me say that we welcome the line.