Page 4861 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 27 November 2018

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This is probably a moment to recall that the first set of harm minimisation round tables started back in July 2017, and an options paper with a range of different models was released in August 2017. In April this year the government engaged Mr Neville Stevens AO to help develop the final model which would provide a pathway to 4,000 machines and provide enough support for clubs to manage that process. Mr Stevens’s final report and the government’s response to it were tabled in the Assembly in August this year.

The Greens recognise that this is a significant change for the clubs industry and that the circumstances of each club will be different. That is why Mr Stevens’s engagement has been so critical to this process, to provide an individualised approach with each club, rather than assuming that one size fits all would be an effective strategy.

The passage of this legislation today will give effect to some key elements of the authorisation surrender process. However, Mr Stevens has been working with clubs since August to identify how they can best take advantage of the incentives on offer through the voluntary surrender process. This legislation puts in place a scheme that offers a range of monetary and offset incentives to encourage voluntary surrender but also sets a deadline for compulsory surrender if required. While this is a significant time of change for the clubs industry, these are important reforms for the ACT community. Gambling harm is a real and serious issue and the saturation of machines across Canberra is resulting in more harm for many people in our community.

The latest research shows the ACT having the second highest gaming machine density in Australia, a density of 14.8 machines per 1,000 adults. We have 2½ times the density of Victoria, twice that of Queensland, and, other than New South Wales, which has 15.5 machines per 1,000 adults, we have a higher density than all the other states and territories. In 2015-16 real expenditure from poker machine gambling in the ACT was $168.5 million, accounting for 73 per cent of all gambling expenditure in the territory. Estimates suggest there were around 62,300 poker machine users at that time, with each spending an average $2,667 per annum. This is an amount that some people cannot afford to lose—and, of course, that being an average, many are losing more than that.

Based on prevalence data, about 17,000 people or 5.4 per cent of adults in the ACT were directly affected by gambling harm in the territory in 2015-16. About 4,700 of these people experienced harms at moderate or high levels. And while internet gambling does represent an emerging issue of concern for gambling harm, experts continue to say that the major priority for gambling harm prevention must be to remain focused on electronic gaming machines.

Over the past few years we have had a very public and important conversation with the ACT community, and it is clear that they believe we can no longer turn a blind eye to the harm that pokies are causing here in Canberra. A recent report published by ACTCOSS and the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance called Stories of Chance highlighted the human impacts of the figures I have just quoted—and they are

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