Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 4 June 2015) . . Page.. 2109 ..
committee heard when it held its first public hearing some weeks ago and as we have seen in the submissions which are now publicly available, they are seeing a declining revenue from poker machines. No doubt the clubs sector is set to continue to go through a phase of transition.
I think this is a positive development. It addresses one part of the clubs industry. As a member of the committee, I look forward to the continued deliberations over the coming months as we hear from further witnesses and then provide a report back to this place. This is a space that is quite dynamic. I reject the argument that this reform, which has been in development for some time, should now not proceed because of that committee. There is ongoing work to be done. I think there is a lot of discussion to be had about how we continue to ensure that clubs, which play an important part in the social fabric of this city, can continue to be viable in the long term. I look forward to that continuing discussion.
MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Racing and Gaming and Minister for the Arts) (4.47), in reply: Before I go into the detail of my comments on this, I will respond to Mr Smyth’s 20-minute interesting bit of theatre. Yes, it is a complex process, but Mr Smyth knows full well that the regulation cannot be written until the bill passes in the Assembly. Mr Smyth spoke at length about certainty. Yes, the clubs have been seeking certainty. They have also been seeking a trading scheme. This bill will deliver that. They have also been seeking that the number of machines be linked to the population so that, as our city grows, should they wish to grow their capacity, they can do so. This bill delivers that.
What I believe the clubs also want is a level of respect. I remind everyone here of the language used by the Canberra Liberals, who often say very loudly that those that operate gaming machines are morally bankrupt. That is the language of the Canberra Liberals. Whilst they claim to have high regard for the clubs, in their language, other than just recently, they have shown nothing but disrespect for the clubs industry in this city.
The Gaming Machine (Reform) Amendment Bill 2015 that I introduced in May proposes changes to the Gaming Machine Act 2004. The gaming machine reform package includes a number of reforms that support the ongoing viability of the club sector while preserving a robust regulatory framework and maintaining a strong harm minimisation framework. This government will not move back from that.
The reforms include a phased reduction in the number of gaming machines across the territory and a new trading scheme to allow authorisations to be traded among licensees. Hotels and taverns will also have access to this trading scheme to divest themselves of outdated class B gaming machines.
The provisions in the bill will be implemented in a phased manner. Phase 1 provides forfeiture arrangements for gaming machine authorisations to reduce the number of permitted gaming machines in the territory and will see the existing pool of gaming machines abolished. To assist trading, the bill allows clubs to apply for a one-off increase to their authorisation certificates without first completing a social impact statement.