Page 1997 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 5 June 2018
affect large numbers of poker machines operating in Labor affiliated clubs, such as the Labor Party’s Labor clubs and the closely related Tradies clubs, owned and operated by the CFMEU.
This reduction measure is designed ultimately to get poker machines down to very low numbers for all clubs, irrespective of whether the Canberra community wants that outcome or not. The casino would get some poker machines out of the overall reduction. Their vision was for around 500 in return for a very substantial investment in Canberra.
This was untenable and out of reach for many reasons, not the least being that it flew in the face of the long-accepted community clubs model for Canberra. Eventually this government did settle on a figure of 200 machines. But the endorsement came with a suffocating set of shoestrings, crafted mainly by the Greens.
Last year’s Casino (Electronic Gaming) Act paved the way for providing poker machines to the casino, but at the price of considerable restraints, including $2 betting limits, a mandatory precommitment system and connection to a central monitoring system.
The next instalment in the yellow brick road created by this government for the casino is the bill before us today. The minister has presented us with a comprehensive and complex bill that sets a framework for controlling the acquisition and disposal of the casino, including leases, licences, approval of owners and conversion of gaming machine authorisations.
One of the curious features of the controlled framework created by this bill is the way that decision-making input will be provided to the minister. On the one hand the minister will draw on advice from the Gambling and Racing Commission while, on the other hand, he will create another advisory body in the form of the casino advisory panel.
This new panel will have powers and features that, in some respects, would look not unlike an ICAC. For example, the minister must take on broad recommendations tendered by the panel. The panel must be established before the minister can make any of the decisions specified.
The bill gives the panel some interesting powers. For example, it requires that so-called information holders must comply with requests for information from the panel. “Information” is defined in the broadest possible sense, as is the list of entities that must respond to information requests by the panel, which includes the Gambling and Racing Commission itself, the ACT Planning and Land Authority and any other territory authority, along with any other entity prescribed by regulation. It is interesting to note that police and other security agencies are not specifically mentioned. Perhaps these are outside the information boundary intended by this bill.
In order to power up this panel, its members will be legislated as protected persons with immunity from civil liability. Protected persons will include people assisting the panel. This casts a broad net in terms of who will be protected. The panel will produce