Page 2110 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 June 2015

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However, the commission must be satisfied that the size and layout of the premises are suitable for the operation of more machines, and any further increase will require a social impact statement. Based on machine numbers at 30 June last year, this one-off increase could allow a maximum increase to authorisation certificates across the territory of 686. However, this does not translate to an increase in the total number of authorisations operating in the territory, and that figure sits at 5,024.

Phase 2 implements the new maximum ratio of 15 gaming machine authorisations per 1,000 adults, which replaces the current cap of 4,000 machines. A number of options were considered in developing this mechanism. After further consultation with the industry, and noting the challenging operational environment which our community clubs face, the government chose to take a realistic approach to reducing overall gaming machine numbers.

The new ratio delivers a reduction that is appropriate for an industry going through a period of adjustment. The changes to taxation rates, which raise the tax-free threshold for clubs from $180,000 to $300,000 per annum, are expected to commence, and will commence, on 1 July this year.

The reforms before the Assembly today strike the right balance in supporting the ongoing viability of the territory’s community clubs while ensuring the continuation of this government’s strong harm minimisation framework.

I thank the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, in their legislative scrutiny role, for their review of the Gaming Machine (Reform) Amendment Bill 2015. I have examined the committee’s scrutiny report dated 26 May and note the committee has raised six matters for my consideration, four being recommended for response.

I take the opportunity now to respond to those matters, beginning with the comments relating to provisions that allow the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission to find that a person is an eligible person for the act notwithstanding that the person does not satisfy certain eligibility requirements.

I note these provisions have existed in the act since its commencement in 2004. As was said in the explanatory statement at that time, they operate to provide discretion where it would otherwise be harsh or unreasonable to consider the individual or the corporation ineligible for a licence.

These powers will be exercised by the commission, the independent regulator established by statute and bound by the powers granted by the Assembly under both the act and the overarching Gambling and Racing Control Act 1999. In addition, in exercising these powers the commission is bound to consider public interest considerations under subclauses 6(3) and 7(2) of the bill.

In relation to whether the powers should be disallowable by the Assembly, I consider that disallowance could cause considerable uncertainty for gaming machine licence

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