House debates

Monday, 22 February 2010

Private Members’ Business

Electronic Gaming Machines

7:57 pm

Photo of Luke SimpkinsLuke Simpkins (Cowan, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Wakefield for bringing this motion before the chamber. It is at least the second motion that he has brought forward on gambling. I also recall that I had an opportunity to speak before on this matter.

I do not understand these sorts of addictions. I saw this problem during a rare walk through Crown Casino in Melbourne when I was there several years ago. I saw it at certain licensed clubs within New South Wales when I was on rowing trips many aeons ago. I also saw it during a visit to Wrest Point Hotel Casino when I was in the Army, back in 1990. I felt dreadful when I lost $20, and I realised then that I did not have a problem with gambling. But you see people who seem to spend a lot of time locked to their favourite machine and also a lot of money going into those things. I appreciate what is going on. I appreciate the member for Wakefield’s pursuit of this issue. A lot of people clearly cannot help themselves, and I think that is a tragedy.

I recall one day—and this is not specifically about poker machines—talking to a local newsagent in the electorate of Cowan. He told me about a time when the lotto bonus was $30 million and a number of people came into the newsagency, paid off their minimum loan repayment to Dun and Bradstreet through the newsagent but saved the majority of their money to buy lotto tickets.


This is one of the problems to do with gambling: that some people out there who, for whatever reason, have such a sense of hopelessness in their lives that they feel that it is only through luck—the pursuit of the life-changing gambling win—that the circumstances of their adversity can be alleviated. Maybe that is something to do with what is going on in the casinos and licensed clubs around the country where people plough in many dollar coins. They are significant dollars by the time you roll them all in together. It is a terrible thing that people surrender themselves to luck. I think we here would all agree, those of us who have worked hard to get to this place, that destiny, if anything, is in the palms of our hands and is generated by hard work. It is a tragedy that there are people out there who feel that is not the way to go—that they must rely on risking their future by ploughing coins into a machine or by some other form of gambling. As a member from Western Australia, I say that it is a great thing that we have these gaming machines restricted to the casino at Burswood. It is not ingrained into our society as much as it is elsewhere, as we heard from the member for Werriwa.

I struggle to understand how this is a recreational pursuit. It does not seem interesting to me to sit in front of a machine and hear it whirr and crank; to hear the bells and whistles going off. It is not that interesting to me but the reality is that there are a lot of people who do not have a gambling problem but think that is recreation. Provided they can live within their limits we should not be trying to restrict them. I endorse the member for Wakefield’s position on this motion. If you are happy to sit in front of a machine, and that is the right of every Australian citizen, then you can surely get entertainment out of pushing a button where it does not cost you $10 a time. I think it is a tragedy that people are addicted and we can at least make some small moves to limit the damage for those who do have a problem.


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