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Gambling Policy Changes
Ms O'CONNOR question to TREASURER, Mr GUTWEIN
According to statements you have made, in around six months your Government's socially toxic changes to gambling policy will be introduced to parliament. In ending the Federal Group's monopoly deed and moving to an individual licensing model which will claim lives and destroy livelihoods, operators and venues will be the beneficiaries of a $250 million windfall gain.
The Federal Group itself, having profited from human misery for the past 40 years, has argued for a favourable tax deal in the new arrangement. As you know, Tasmania already has the lowest table gambling taxes in the country. In the interests of transparency are you able to update the House on the tax deal being negotiated with your corporate donor? Will they get the sweet deal they are demanding or an even better one as reward for their strong support during the last election campaign?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that question. As she rightly suggested, we are working through the matters in terms of the introduction of our new gaming policy, a gaming policy which was resoundingly supported at the last election. It behoves me to put on the record some facts of the matter in terms of the alarmist language that the member uses.
Overall, the participation in gambling in Tasmania has declined. Real expenditure on electronic gaming machines in Tasmania has continued to trend downwards. The adult population susceptible to problem gambling, there has been no increase in that over the last three studies on the social and economic impact of gambling in Tasmania. These are the facts that the member seems to walk away from every time she brings this issue of gaming to the House. We believe firmly on this side of the House that Tasmanians are responsible enough to make their own choices and they should be allowed to make those choices. That is in contrast to the other side of the House.
Ms O'Connor - You do not understand addiction.
Mr GUTWEIN - The member continues to interject and it is of no surprise today, on a day when they have come closer together in a political sense and I do not think anybody could not notice that it was Labor and the Greens that took a similar gambling policy to the election, to remove choice from Tasmanians. It is of no surprise today that you would raise this issue in this House in an attempt to set yourself apart from Labor who have backflipped once again -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, and I hope you do not regard this as a frivolous point of order. It is important, under standing order 45, that the Treasurer addresses the question which relates to tax negotiations with the Federal Group.
Madam SPEAKER - As you know, it is not a point of order. I am considering frivolous points of order, because everyone here is quite experienced, as a warning. So, I am afraid I have to give you a warning, Ms O'Connor.
Ms O'CONNOR - Can I get some clarification, Madam Speaker?
Madam SPEAKER - You may.
Ms O'CONNOR - Does that mean we are no longer able to raise standing order 45, which is our right in this place?
Madam SPEAKER - Yes, it is. Once you raise and it is clearly out of order, it is out of order. It is just becoming a habit to distract and waste the taxpayers' money. I think everyone raising a point of order needs to -
Ms O'Connor - It is unprecedented.
Madam SPEAKER - I do not care. It is a new precedent. This is the thing: we have had nothing but frivolous points of order to distract from sensible debate, so it stops as of today. Please proceed, Treasurer.
Ms O'CONNOR - On the point of order, I state that it is not frivolous to ask the Treasurer to address his mind to the question.
Madam SPEAKER - That might be the case, but it is not going to get you the answer because I cannot put the words into the mouth of the minister, as you well know. Until someone is prepared to take standing order 45 back to the Standing Orders Committee and discuss it more broadly -
Ms O'Connor - I am not on the committee. We are not on the committee.
Madam SPEAKER - we are stuck with it. Thank you.
Mr GUTWEIN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. To be clear, I answered your question in the opening couple of sentences where I said that the process is underway of the negotiation in terms of the introduction of our new gaming policy, which, as I have clearly stated to the House, will be dealt with by legislation early next year.
Then this place and the upper House, and the public of Tasmania, will have an opportunity to have a say on what is included in that particular policy.
I was pointing out again the political opportunism of the member in raising this today with a view to run on an issue where she thinks there was separation between herself and the Labor Party.
Ms O'Connor - You are so cynical.
Mr GUTWEIN - It is statement of fact as to why you have done that. You have been around long enough and so have I to understand your motivation.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, through the Chair please, Treasurer.
Mr GUTWEIN - It does bring me back to my point that was making that again the Labor Party stands for nothing. Regardless of the efforts of the member who has asked this question, the record of this House indicates that on more than nine out of 10 occasions Labor and the Greens have continued to vote together in this term of parliament. Nine out of 10 occasions. Only two weeks ago we saw the Labor Party make the claim that they would focus on the economy and on jobs. What we have watched is two weeks of absolute malfunction, dysfunction. Rebecca White's leadership in this place is on a very thin tightrope. The clock is ticking, make no mistake.