Monday 16 November 2009
GAMING CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 2009 (No. 101)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I just want to make a couple of points because I think most of the issues that have been addressed by the Government in examining this situation of harm minimisation have been covered by the members. I appreciate very much our briefing today, which gave us a fuller understanding of the measures that have been taken in this legislation.
Just in talking with people about this bill it was interesting to recall that back in the mid-1960s I remember dealing with a news story here in Tasmania where the Government had announced that nightclubs in Tasmania could stay open until two o'clock in the morning. It was interesting because in Tasmania at that time we did not have any nightclubs.
Mr FINCH - None that was legal anyway.
Mr Aird - No-one told you.
Mr FINCH - No, but it was interesting because we were preparing in Tasmania at that time for Australia's first casino and what a landmark opportunity and decision that was for Tasmania to be the first in Australia to develop a casino. I can only just applaud the way that partnership has developed, so that we have matured, particularly with Federal Hotels. I know that this goes a little bit further from their operations and those things that they are involved with in respect of the tourism industry. But certainly, that is the point that I wanted to make. I just think we have matured. I think the fact that Tasmania has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, issues with problem gambling in Australia - and I was amazed to think that it was six years ago that we talked about the amended Gaming Control Act, the deed, it was called at that time. It seems like just a couple of years ago.
I applaud the move by the Government to carry out this investigation. This social and economic impact study into gambling has enabled people with issues and concerns about gambling to put their concerns on the table and brought about adjustments in the way we go about our gambling and our gaming in Tasmania. I think the measures that I have heard and read through the bill and here today are positive steps in recognising the issue and taking steps to support people who are dealing with the issues of problem gambling.
I feel comforted by the measures that have been taken, particularly I think where we are moving down the track of halving that minimum bet that people can make. I just highlight that one issue, from $10 down to $5. I can see that being quite a good step in the right direction. Whether we are ready for the amendments that the member is intending to put forward, I will wait to hear the argument in respect of that but I still feel that the Government has made quite a massive concession in respect of that. We have to consider that a third of the money that is earned from revenue in gaming, comes back to the Tasmanian taxpayers, through the Government. Yet, the Government is prepared to concede half of that opportunity, if that is what it amounts to. But certainly they are conceding some of the returns that might come to the Government in respect of considering this harm minimisation approach to problem gamblers.
So, Madam President, I support the bill