Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 27 October 2015) . . Page.. 3595 ..
activities that cause some level of harm exist throughout our community. Alcohol is an obvious comparison. Moderate use is fine, even pleasurable, but abuse of alcohol can cause immense harm on our roads, in our homes and in our hospitals.
Increasingly we are also talking as a community about obesity and its long-term harm to individuals and its impact on our health system. Certainly in all these cases, as is the case with problem gambling, prevention is always better than cure but I think we need to know more about the nature of these problems and what works to address them.
In my mind there seems to be a level of mismatch between some of the more alarmist views of the anti-poker machine advocates and the daily experiences of people who use clubs. I think there is a middle ground and I think we did a considerable amount of work in this committee trying to find that middle ground.
The issue of stigma was brought up by a number of different witnesses before the committee. People who suffer from problem gambling feel a great stigma around that. I reflect on whether some of the very alarmist discussions in our community about the use of poker machines may actually contribute to that. So I think we need a better and more balanced debate about that. A better and more balanced debate can come from a better understanding of the nature of the problem.
I hope that in general the community and the government will look at this report and see that we have agreed on a number of key findings. I also certainly think, as I noted earlier, that there is recognition in the club sector and in the broader community that clubs need to be able to diversify. They are calling for that, and the government is responding.
This committee was asked to consider some of those issues, and one of those was around land development. It is clear to all of us that community clubs are set on significant land holdings but I do not agree that this should be the only path to diversification. The simple fact is that some clubs may not be able to survive on their current land holdings but this does not mean that they may not be able to survive in some other form.
Personally, I did not agree to the complete removal of all fees and charges for club land diversification for two main reasons. It is not fair or equitable to the community that one sector is able to have complete removal of all fees and charges.
One particular issue was the lease variation charge, and no matter whom I spoke to in the community—and I have been, as many members of this place have been, spoken to by members of industry and the community about the lease variation charge—not a single person has disagreed with the principle of community deriving a benefit back from an increase in the value of the land that is unearned. Yes, there is considerable disagreement on the nature of the formula and the amounts to be paid but the simple principle of not having a windfall gain from a change in a lease is not, in my experience, after quite some extensive advocacy from a range of people, fundamentally disagreed with.