Monday, 2 May 2016
I am in possession of a letter dated 12 April 2016 that the Tasmanian Treasurer, Mr Gutwein, has written to the President of the Senate, the Hon. Stephen Parry. The first point that needs to be made here is that this letter is notable for what it does not say about poker machines in Tasmania as much as for what it does say. There are a few things that need to be placed on the record here. Firstly, there are well over 3,000 poker machines in Tasmania, and Tasmanians lose about $200 million a year through poker machines. That is not the amount of money that Tasmanians put into poker machines; that is the amount of money that Tasmanians lose on poker machines every single year, or certainly in the 2014-15 period.
These machines are deliberately designed to be addictive, and the type of machine that is allowed in Australia is regarded by industry experts around the world as the most addictive type of poker machine that is in existence. These machines are designed with one aim and one aim only, and that is to fleece people of their money. Tasmanians, as I said, lost just under $200 million to poker machines in 2014-15, about $114 million of which was lost to poker machines in pubs and clubs—that is, poker machines embedded in the Tasmanian community. Another $80 million was lost to poker machines in casinos and on ferries in Tasmania. The Tasmanian community has been polled recently. In a poll conducted by EMRS and the Social Action and Research Centre in Tasmania, 84 per cent of Tasmanians believe the community has not benefited from having poker machines in pubs and clubs, and four out of five Tasmanians want poker machines reduced in number or removed entirely from local venues.
So Mr Gutwein has failed to acknowledge the extent of the harm that his greed is causing—because he is the Tasmanian Treasurer and, as such, he is basically the biggest poker machine addict in Tasmania. I want to place on the record here that Mr Gutwein is skating on very thin ice indeed in terms of the language he uses in the letter, and he is perilously close to—if not through the ice on—a charge of misleading the Senate in relation to this letter, because he says, 'A comprehensive review of licensing options will occur.' He is speaking there of what the government's plan is around the fact that the current gaming machine licence in Tasmania, which was a sweetheart monopoly deal between the then Tasmanian Labor government and Federal Hotels, expires in 2023.
But of course what Mr Gutwein has not said and the reason he is on thin ice in terms of making the claim that a comprehensive review of licensing options will occur, is that, in establishing the parliamentary committee that is the first step in the so-called comprehensive review, he has failed to allow the terms of reference to be amended to consider the number, the type, the design and the location of poker machines in Tasmania—that is, any discussion around the number of poker machines in the Tasmanian community will not be considered by the Tasmanian government; any submission around the design of poker machines in Tasmania will not be considered by the Tasmanian government; any submission around the location of poker machines in Tasmania—should they be allowed, to their insidious effect, in our communities or should they be confined to casinos in Tasmania?—will not be able to be considered. This is not a comprehensive review, as Mr Gutwein has falsely claimed in this letter to the President of the Senate. This review is a whitewash designed to deliver the outcome that Mr Gutwein wants, and that— (Time expired)
Question agreed to.