Thursday, 29 November 2012
National Gambling Reform Bill 2012; Consideration in Detail
by leave—I move amendments (1) to (13) as circulated in my name:
(1) Clause 13, page 16 (line 7), omit "2016", substitute "2018".
(2) Clause 13, page 16 (line 14), omit "2020", substitute "2022".
(3) Clause 13, page 16 (line 24), omit "2020", substitute "2022".
(4) Clause 13, page 16 (line 26), omit "2020", substitute "2022".
(5) Clause 13, page 16 (line 29), omit "2013", substitute "2014".
(6) Clause 15, page 17 (line 25), omit "2013", substitute "2014".
(7) Clause 15, page 17 (line 28), omit "2013", substitute "2014".
(8) Clause 17, page 18 (line 15), omit "2017", substitute "2019".
(9) Clause 17, page 18 (line 20), omit "2021", substitute "2023".
(10) Clause 17, page 18 (line 29), omit "2021", substitute "2023".
(11) Clause 17, page 18 (line 31), omit "2021", substitute "2023".
(12) Clause 17, page 19 (line 2), omit "2013", substitute "2014".
(13) Clause 51, page 42 (lines 12 to 14), omit paragraph (c), substitute:
(c) the terms and conditions on which the precommitment system would be provided are reasonable including low cost, taking into account the matters prescribed by the regulations.
I spoke to these amendments earlier on, Deputy Speaker Georganas, so I will not take the time of the House now. I congratulate the member for Denison once again for bringing this issue once again to the House. He has been very passionate in relation to this particular issue. Even though it is probably not totally to his liking in terms of an outcome, there is no doubt in my mind that this issue would not have been addressed in the way it has been and that these amendments and this legislation will be accepted by the community generally. I pay regard to the member for Denison. I would also like to thank the member for Dobell for his assistance with the amendments and working with the various players in terms of trying to get some degree of consensus in relation to the legislation.
I second those amendments from the member for New England. When I made my contribution earlier, I said that this was always a balancing act between making sure that the club industry was healthy, which I think everyone in this chamber supports, and making sure something happens to assist those people who have a gambling problem. In supporting those amendments from the member for New England, those amendments give additional time to make sure that that balance is right so that clubs and hotels can cope with the introduction of this legislation.
I would like to make one other observation. Everyone who has made a contribution in this debate has said that there is a problem with gambling. Everyone has said that there are difficulties with the way in which gambling operates in this country. Yet if that is the case then these steps, albeit that they are perhaps not as strong as the member wanted originally, are certainly important steps. If people truly believe that there are problems with gambling, then everyone in this chamber should be supporting this bill and the amendments.
The Greens will reluctantly be supporting these amendments because it is apparent that that is necessary for the passage of this bill. We started this week with a bill that certainly had some good features and some features that the Greens had been able to negotiate. It is a bill that nonetheless is far less than what is needed to tackle the misery that is caused by the pokies industry in this country.
During the course of this week the vultures of the pokie industry have circled this place and have made every effort they could to kill this bill and, if not, to try and weaken it. It is unfortunate that there has been some success, but I am very pleased that they have not been able to stand in the way of or kill the bill. We ought to remember that this is an industry that makes machines that we find here on a scale that we do not find in other countries, machines where someone can lose up to $1,200 an hour.
Many people over many years have put forward some sensible proposals as to how to limit that. We can have $1 bets. That would still allow recreational punters to have a go but limit the problems. That is a bridge too far. We could have mandatory precommitment. Apparently that is a bridge too far. As a result, we will still be left with machines that are able to and in fact are designed to suck as much money as possible out of people who cannot afford it to put into the pockets of the pokies industry. If you look at a map of the areas where pokies are found at their highest concentration, it is almost exactly the same map as areas of social disadvantage in Australia.
It is disappointing that after this bill leaves this place we will be in a process of trials and then potential future action. We hope that we can keep this on the agenda and see some reform. But as we head towards Christmas it is unfortunate that there will still be families affected because people in their families, who may in fact be the breadwinners, have a gambling problem and we have not taken as strong action as we could have on the day that this parliament rises.
I rise to indicate the coalition will not support these amendments. This has been a chaotic process from day 1. These amendments would not even be necessary if the Labor government had properly consulted with the states and territories in the first place, and we would not be discussing this bill if this government respected the primacy of the states and territories in an area which is constitutionally theirs. But instead of doing that, because of some sordid deal entered into with the member for Denison, we are here at the end of a chaotic process that this government has engaged in.
I say to the honourable members for New England and Dobell that I understand the purport of what they are putting to the House, but the reality is that this is not good legislation, for the reasons that I have outlined at length on other occasions. If they believed what they have said, then they would simply vote against this legislation.
The government will be supporting the amendments moved by the member for New England and supported by the member for Dobell. I thank all of the members who are indicating their support for these amendments. We do understand that the legislation has taken some time to get to this point. We support the amendments both to give venues more time and to give manufacturers more time. I thank the member for New England for his contribution.
Madam Speaker, on a point of order: in my speech on this gambling legislation, I made the point that the member for Banks is not entitled to vote because of a conflict of interest which could give rise to having the legislation declared invalid. I would like to make that point.
Madam Speaker, on that point of order: the member for Mackellar, if she wants to, can pursue the point under standing order 134, which says:
A Member may not vote in a division on a question about a matter, other than public policy, in which he or she has a particular direct pecuniary interest.
(b) The vote of a Member may be challenged on the grounds of the pecuniary interest by means of a substantive motion moved immediately after a division is completed. If the motion is carried, the Member's vote shall be disallowed.
If the member chooses to follow the standing orders, I will respond to the garbage she went on with in the substantive debate.