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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 August 2017) . . Page.. 2458 ..

Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2017

Mr Ramsay, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.39): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to introduce the Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2017 into the Assembly today. Members of the Assembly will be aware that the government is working on a range of initiatives designed to reduce the harm from gambling. Harm minimisation is absolutely this government’s priority. Our approach to gaming machines will be based on the evidence about how we can minimise harm. Our evidence-based policies will be shaped through consultation with experts, the community and clubs.

One important feature of this government’s consultation is the recognition that clubs offer sport, recreation and other opportunities for people to participate in their communities. The social contribution that clubs make needs to be valued, supported and, where possible, expanded. That is why ACT Labor took to the election a support package for small and medium clubs. This bill is another example of the government getting right down to business on its commitments. We promised to help smaller clubs in the transition away from gaming machine revenue. Today’s bill does just that.

The amendments to the Gaming Machine Act 2004 in this bill provide tax rebates, reduce regulatory burdens around tax lodgement and payment requirements and improve the community’s access to social impact assessments. Small and medium clubs and club groups are defined as gaming machine licensees or groups of licensees with aggregate gross gaming machine revenue of less than $4 million for the financial year. This income level means that up to 17 clubs or club groups, based on 2015-16 revenue, would be eligible for support.

An important feature of the legislation is that it defines “club group” much like an organisation is defined for payroll tax purposes. Common branding, shared board members and other features mean that income from multiple gaming licences may be treated as counting towards the $4 million threshold. These provisions mean, for example, that the tradesmen’s clubs will not be eligible for the assistance package. The package is designed especially to target smaller organisations.

There are two key support features for clubs in this package: a 50 per cent gaming machine tax rebate and a $10,000 grant. The tax rebate takes effect from 1 July 2017 and will mean that eligible clubs get back 50 per cent of their gaming machine tax for the financial year. The purpose of the rebate is to give clubs funds to invest in sources of income other than gaming machines.

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