Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 11 May 2017) . . Page.. 1679 ..
the loopholes and gaps that exist in our current code of conduct. For too many years we have allowed the industry to self-regulate, taking their claims that they want to minimise harm for problem gamblers at face value. Yet we continue to hear stories of people in our community whose lives have been devastated by poker machine addiction.
People who gamble are entitled to an environment that minimises their risk of developing gambling problems. Rather than seeking more poker machines to increase revenue, the Greens want clubs to improve harm minimisation measures to protect people who are at risk of developing addictive gambling behaviour and think about other ways to diversify their business models. The measures Mr Rattenbury is calling for today should not be controversial. They are common-sense responses to methodologies to limit gambling harm and it is really time that we took action to put the community first on this and other issues.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (11.59): I thank members for their support today. I particularly acknowledge Ms Le Couteur’s speech and also those of the Chief Minister and the Attorney-General. I welcome the Attorney-General’s commitment to working on a range of these issues and acknowledge the work that he has already got underway. There is a real opportunity to make, as I said in my earlier remarks, some important progress on issues that are not silver bullets and will not fix everything but are things that should be done, that are within our powers to do and can be done in a timely manner.
I note the remarks of Mr Parton and I would like to make a few brief comments in response. He made the observation that this is a dying industry and we should simply let market forces deal with it. I do not accept that. While we are seeing people in our community being harmed by this, we have a duty to not just wait for the market to get its act together and for this to die out. We have a positive responsibility to step in and provide assistance to those in our community who are afflicted by a gambling addiction. These are real people; and these are members of our community who are being impacted. I am not content to take the laissez-faire approach that simply says it will deal with itself in time. It may be a dinosaur industry—I think everyone acknowledges it is going that way—but we can do more in the meantime rather than simply leave people to be the flotsam and jetsam of market forces.
I also do not accept the characterisation that says, “We’ve got the lowest problem gambling rate in Australia; it’s only 1,000 people or so and that compares favourably.” Well, I do not think that compares favourably to anything. I think that says we have at least 1,000 people in our community who warrant help and positive effort by this Legislative Assembly to do something constructive to minimise the harm they are being exposed to.
We know surveys estimate that around 15 per cent of people who play the pokies regularly are problem gamblers and that their share of total spending on poker machines is around 40 per cent. It may be a small number of people but it is a disproportionate impact, and that is what we are talking about here—a disproportionate impact on people and, therefore, a duty to respond.