Page 3699 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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The government has already acted on these concerns. Within days of the Tatts announcement, the Gambling and Racing Commission moved to restrict the sale of lottery products in the ACT to between 5 am and 9 pm—the earliest and latest opening hours of existing NSW Lotteries outlets in the ACT. I believe these measures address any potential risks while also protecting newsagents from unfair competition from 24/7 operators. The time limit also helps to protect service station workers, often sole operators overnight, from becoming the target of criminal activity.

I recognise that there are concerns about the wellbeing of our small business community, notwithstanding that existing Tatts retailers have operated alongside more than 100 fuel outlets selling lottery products in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales for some time. To that end I have sought and received assurance from Tatts that this limited expansion into five service stations is considered to be a 12-month trial. At the end of that period both Tatts and the government will review the results, including impacts on existing small businesses.

I have also received an assurance from Tatts that NSW Lotteries will not expand its network of lottery outlets in the ACT into supermarkets before 2018. This small business protection measure is in line with arrangements in New South Wales and makes significant clauses of Mr Wall’s bill redundant.

A key part of this government’s economic growth and business development strategy is to minimise red tape and to get out of the way of the private sector. I believe Mr Wall’s bill in its current state does the opposite. By seeking to legislate restrictions on the business type, size and location of lottery product retailers, the bill represents the most restrictive approach of any jurisdiction in Australia. Further, restricting economic opportunities to businesses on the condition that they do not exceed a certain size or staffing level creates possibly a disincentive to grow, acting as a brake on economic growth.

The bill would create a situation where a thriving small business could be punished for growing. A business owner would have to choose between putting on an extra staff member and losing their right to sell lottery products. This is not a desirable outcome for business or the wider economy.

The Lotteries Amendment Bill 2015 is inadequate in numerous respects; it stands in contrast to the government’s economic policy and business development strategies; is not supported by academic research on gambling harm; and fails to recognise that appropriate gambling safeguards are already in place. It is for those reasons that the government cannot support the bill in its current form.

My proposal to Mr Wall is that we adjourn debate on this bill to give him the opportunity to consider the comments that I have now read into Hansard and possible amendments. I remind Mr Wall that I offered to facilitate having EDD look at his bill to identify shortcomings. However, he simply declined this offer.

Given the commitments I have extracted from Tatts and the time restrictions already in place on sales, I believe it is now up to Mr Wall to do the further work required before bringing amendments back to the Assembly.

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