Page 1671 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2017

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In recent weeks we have been presented with some stark examples of people suffering from extreme gambling addictions, and my heart goes out to them. I admire their courage in speaking out and exposing their anguish and distress. As has been stated in this chamber, it is not an easy thing to do. It is very difficult. I would hope that their courage in exposing their difficulties to the public would help them in dealing with their addiction and suffering. I hope that they are on a pathway to relief and that others suffering from this addiction can find a way forward.

Make no bones about it, I am absolutely certain that the publicity given to Laurie’s story has contributed to the education of the wider community about gambling addiction. It is important that these stories are told. I would make mention of attending a session that was put on by ClubsACT for a number of apprentices—dozens of apprentices—in Fyshwick. The former Parramatta footballer Nathan Hindmarsh details his gambling addiction stories to apprentices and basically gives them some assistance in how to deal with it if they feel drawn in by the whirlpool.

In her story, her very bravely told story, Laurie states that prior to learning about the EFTPOS cash withdrawal option she was leaving the club and going to the nearby ATM to withdraw cash and that to get around the club’s ATM withdrawal limits she made sure that she had multiple cards linked to her accounts. Laurie certainly proves that if someone desperately wants to gain access to their own cash, they will probably find a way to do it and that the measures governments may put in place to attempt to stop people from gaining access to their own cash in many cases will not work. It will make everyone else’s life more complicated.

While Mr Rattenbury was putting his motion together, I was busy engaging with ClubsACT and with individual clubs talking constructively about changes to their EFTPOS withdrawal codes. I note that Mr Rattenbury has not engaged with ClubsACT and I would suggest that his time spent in this space might have been more beneficial had he gone out and spoken to them. Had Mr Rattenbury actually been engaging with the industry, he would have known that Canberra clubs were about to put a $250 limit on EFTPOS withdrawals. Although most of us in this place tend to do much of our transactions either online or with EFTPOS, the fact of the matter is that many members of our community prefer to deal with cash.

One of the consequences of the ATM withdrawal limit in clubs was that their food and beverage turnover went through the floor. The biggest single reason that clubs began introducing EFTPOS withdrawal facilities after the ATM withdrawal limits were imposed was that there are many who prefer to purchase things with cash in their hands.

If we were to completely ban EFTPOS withdrawals from clubs it would have two effects—just two: the food and beverage revenue would again face serious instant decline and a number of problem gamblers would improve their aerobic fitness as they began walking around the corner from the club to the nearest ATM.

I would like to point out that our community clubs employ 1,750 Canberrans and that they have donated $131 million to local sporting teams and infrastructure since

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