Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 2017) . . Page.. 3075 ..
The other element of this bill I want to note is the amendment to the social impact assessment process. I raised this issue in a motion in the Assembly earlier this year and I am pleased that the minister has taken action to address this obvious transparency problem. The Greens have long called for changes to make it easier for people to participate in our democracy, and that is why I am pleased that now local residents and concerned community members will be able to access social impact assessments through the commission’s website, making it much easier to lodge submissions in response to applications for new poker machines. The number of poker machines in local areas is a matter of concern for many residents, and this change will better allow them to have a say in these decisions.
The Greens will be supporting this bill because it gives small and medium clubs support to start the process of diversification and move away from a reliance on poker machine revenue. The bill does not impose significant requirements on clubs to indicate how the income from the tax rebate will be used. From my discussions with both ClubsACT and Canberra Community Clubs in recent weeks, I believe they recognise the need to diversify and will encourage their members to take this opportunity to do so. The harsh reality is this: if clubs do not choose to invest this money into new areas they will not be viable in the long term, and so it is in their interests to act now.
I am also pleased to see that the government has accepted the estimates committee recommendation that a brief investment plan should be provided for recipients of the $10,000 grants. It is pretty clear to me, from the public and private conversations I have had with clubs, community groups and people who have experienced gambling harm, that more poker machines are not the answer to revenue shortfalls. I hope that the clubs that access this package will take the opportunity to identify other ways to generate income and contribute to the life of their local communities. I believe their members expect it. I believe it is an imperative that they do so; if they do not, I think their long-term viability is well and truly in question. I believe the clubs will take the sensible path and pursue these alternative approaches. If they do not, it will be upon their heads.
MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.36), in reply: I am particularly pleased today to speak on the Gaming Machine Amendment Bill 2017. This bill amends the Gaming Machine Act 2004 to support small and medium clubs and club groups. The purpose of this support package is to help clubs move away from gaming machines as a source of revenue.
Importantly, this bill delivers a central part of the government’s election commitment: supporting local clubs policy. At the election, Labor promised that it would assist small and medium clubs with gross gaming machine revenue under $4 million. Today’s bill delivers on that promise and it recognises the contribution that a diverse clubs sector makes to the social and economic fabric of our city.