Page 1673 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2017

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In respect of the call for the government to investigate changes to the Gaming Machine Act around the $250 cash withdrawal limit, again the attorney will detail the work that is underway in relation to that. But that is something that the Labor Party supports. I have made some public statements on this. So has Mr Parton; so has Mr Rattenbury. It is not a silver bullet, but it is a small positive step forward. On that basis I think it should be supported. We will look at the appropriate legislative mechanism by which to achieve that. Again, the attorney will go to that in some detail.

I think it is important in this debate that we are able to move beyond black and white and the posturing that I think has characterised this debate too much in this city as people seek to extract the absolute maximum political advantage when really there is not that much political advantage to be extracted. Every scintilla of possibility to try to wedge a political party or seek to score a political point is taken in almost every element of this discussion. That probably is an explanation as to why reform in this area is so difficult to achieve.

But where there is agreement, I think we should move forward, and we have done so through the parliamentary agreement between the Labor Party and the Greens party in relation to the number of poker machines that there will be in this city by 2020 and to continue to pursue a range of harm minimisation initiatives that this forms one part, but not the only part, of the work that will occur over the balance of this parliamentary term.

I do not think it is fair to characterise the efforts of those who wish to reduce the harm of poker machines as being anti-club. This debate has to move beyond that. We had an election campaign last year where the clubs gambled very heavily on making attempts to reduce the harm from gambling, and particularly the harm caused by poker machines, into a political issue about the clubs themselves. They gambled and they lost badly. The social licence the clubs have to operate those machines was damaged in that process.

The peak body, ClubsACT, in particular has a lot to answer for in relation to their approach to this issue last year. They gambled and they lost badly, Madam Assistant Speaker. But that is not to say that this side of politics believes that all in the club industry made the wrong call last year or that there is not a constructive way forward to address some of the issues that Mr Parton has raised in his amendment.

Today is not the day to seek to amend an important harm minimisation measure to bring a debate about the clubs to this place. But I would point members to my party’s clubs policy that we released in last year’s election campaign. It was very high profile. This was one of the biggest issues in the campaign, aside from light rail. So we know very clearly where everyone stands on these matters.

Our supporting local community clubs policy is clear and contains a number of action items that the government, or the Labor Party, will progress, hopefully with the support of other parties in this place, particularly as it relates to the question of how to support our local community clubs in their task of diversification away from an undue reliance on poker machine revenue.

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