STATUTES AMENDMENT (GAMING PROHIBITIONS) BILL

Legislative Council
Wednesday 19 2016

 

second reading speech

STATUTES AMENDMENT (GAMING PROHIBITIONS) BILL

 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 17:25 :55 ): I rise on behalf of the Greens and as a member of the crossbench who proposed these bills to support not just this bill but also the other bill that we will shortly debate on gambling in this state. It is no surprise that it is the crossbenchers who are united on this. While I note that currently the Hon. Robert Brokenshire is on odds of $2.30 to $1 on Sportsbet to take the new Senate spot, the leader of Family First in this place is on $11 to $1 to move to the red leather benches in Canberra, but of course the former staffer in this place, Rikki Lambert, is currently the favourite at $1.87 to $1.

What we can be sure of, and what is a sure bet, however, is that when it comes to political donations we know there is gambling money there. We know that those who have a vested interest in this industry also fund political parties, who then seem to come to this place with particular views. Certainly, it is no surprise that the Alliance for Gambling Reform federally, which is a group of business people, academics and politicians who want greater restrictions on Australia's multi-billion dollar gambling industry, is in strong numbers represented by crossbenchers.

Senator Xenophon of course came to prominence in politics as a 'No Pokies' candidate, and has long advocated, and the Hon. John Darley has continued that work in this place. The Greens proudly support all the measures in this and the following gambling bill. I note that Senator Larissa Waters, my federal Greens colleague, has been part of something that we are calling 'Pokie-leaks'. Pokie-leaks is necessary because the major political parties have been compromised by political donations from gambling and hotel industries for too long in this nation, avoiding scrutiny, and that is why I suggest members of the community check out Pokie-leaks. If you follow the money, you will see why we have the votes that we do.

The Greens certainly consulted previously, as did members of the government, members of the opposition and the crossbench, about one particular facet of both these bills, which is the placement of EFTPOS machines in terms of the location and proximity to gaming machines. At the time, we were informed by the welfare sector that they were not sure. However, we have since seen—and as the Hon. Rob Lucas has noted—evidence that that is a harmful move, and the Greens are willing and prepared today to say that we got that wrong. We did not have the evidence, but now we do, and we will support this bill and support the removal of those EFTPOS machines from these facilities.

This nation does have a gambling problem. We do see people suffer enormously from the ill effects of gambling. We even have a budget where we will soon debate the amounts of money to go into the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund. We have to rehabilitate people's lives, those who continue to live. I think most people in the community can tell you a story of somebody who they know, somebody who they have had contact with, somebody who they have lost due to problem gambling. It is a scourge in our community. It can be a bit of fun and I certainly understand that members, particularly of the opposition benches, will advocate that, but we cannot close our eyes to the fact that it also creates enormous harm and that we should seek to alleviate that harm where it happens.

I will not labour the point too much. I will simply say that it is no surprise that the crossbenchers stand here united today in terms of bringing to this place and bringing to all parliaments—federal, state and territory—the issues of problem gambling and seeking to address them. We will not stop advocating. We will not close our eyes to this issue and we also certainly will not take money from gambling industries themselves. That means that we will not be compromised on these issues and that is why I can stand here and say that we have seen the evidence and we have changed our vote and we will support both these bills. Indeed, we were proud to help introduce them.

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