Page 1680 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2017
The other thing we know is that for every person with a gambling problem, between five and 10 others—partners, children, colleagues—also experience serious consequences. This means that it is not just 1,000 people in Canberra who have been impacted by this; there are many more thousands who wear the consequences of this addictive behaviour.
I would like to think that Mr Parton will regret—perhaps it was a slip of the tongue—comparing problem gambling to chocolate addiction. That is beneath this debate and I do not think that is an appropriate comparison to make at all. I would like to think it was one of those things that got said in the heat of the moment; I certainly intend to treat it as such at this stage because there is simply not the space in this serious discussion to go, “Oh, look, there are more people in Canberra addicted to chocolate than there are to poker machines.” Let’s be serious about this: that is a very inappropriate comparison.
Finally on the points Mr Parton made, he suggested that I meet with ClubsACT and have conversations with them. I can assure this Assembly that I have met with ClubsACT on many occasions. I have been to many clubs. I went to Vikings Club last year because they wanted to raise their concerns with me about the potential for a casino licence. I have had extensive meetings with the clubs. But the last time I met ClubsACT the meeting lasted in the order of six to seven minutes. ClubsACT did not like the position I took and so they got up and stormed out of their own office. They left us to find our own way out of their building. It was an extraordinary situation. In all my time in public life and the campaigning I did before I came to this place, I have never experienced anything like that. To be honest, I have not had a meeting with ClubsACT since then because I do not know how you start again after someone storms out of their own office on you and refuses to continue the discussion. I guess my door remains open, and I look forward to the next time I have a meeting with them it being a more extensive one than the last time.
I agree with Mr Parton that online gambling is a serious problem. I am really concerned about the trend; I am concerned about the way particularly sports gambling products are being targeted at young men in this country. The accessibility of those services to people is going to be a problem in the future. I am all for thinking about the steps we can take. To my best knowledge no-one has identified easy steps to take, so I am glad to hear from the attorney that thinking is being done on this. We all know this is a problem area, and one I am very happy to talk further with members in this place on how we might respond. Because of the nature of the internet it is going to be very difficult for the ACT to act alone; COAG-style processes are going to be the place for this. But that does not mean we should not do something about poker machines in the ACT.
I thank members for the discussion today. I thank those members who are supporting this motion. It is time to act. There is no silver bullet on this matter, but it is time that we took some of these important steps forward. I look forward to continuing this discussion with colleagues.