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Greens Matter of Public Importance - Gambling Policy
Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens - Motion) - Madam Speaker, I
That the House take note of the following matter: gambling policy.
Every day in Tasmania at venues across this state in areas of
socioeconomic disadvantage such as in my electorate of Clark in Glenorchy,
people who do not have money to spare are pouring that money into one of
the 2500 electronic gaming machines in our community. We know the money
that goes into those machines primarily comes from people who have a
problem with gambling. We thought it important today that this parliament
has a debate about gambling policy in Tasmania. It was certainly an issue
that was front and centre during the last state election campaign and it
is an issue in which Tasmanians have a great deal of interest.
While the Premier can stand up in here this morning and say that
Tasmanians overwhelmingly endorsed the Liberals' policy on gambling at the
last state election, that is simply untrue. We know that is untrue
because of the makeup of the numbers in this House, and the fact that the
Labor Party unquestionably secured votes off the back of their principled
position on the removal of poker machines from pubs and clubs, so public
concern about the social and economic impacts of poker machines certainly
influenced the way people voted.
When we talk about gambling policy in Tasmania, the Treasurer yesterday
made it very clear that the Liberals' policy is to extend the
socioeconomic harm of poker machines in our community out to 2048. The
policy is to move towards an individual licensing model, which is exactly
the model that the Tasmanian Hospitality Association and the Federal Group
took to the parliamentary inquiry into gambling reform in Tasmania. We
know, because of the evidence that was put forward by the THA and Mr
Farrell, that the individual licensing model would overnight lead to a
significant increase in the value of venues and also increase the take for
those venue operators from currently keeping some 30 per cent of the
revenue to around 50 per cent of the revenue that goes into those machines.
We know the Liberals' policy is all about the industry. The Liberals'
policy has been bought by the industry and it will embed harm in our
community to 2048. We also know that the Liberals' policy when they were
in opposition was to have $1 bet limits in Tasmania. If Tasmania had $1
bet limits the harm caused by poker machines in our community would be
considerably reduced, but that was a policy the Liberals walked away from
after the 2010 state election.
It is a matter of historical record that the Labor Party, after years of
taking donations from the Federal Group, after taking their marching
orders from Greg Farrell and the THA, finally took a position of principle
late in 2017 and said that its policy was to remove poker machines from
pubs and clubs. That was an extraordinarily brave and principled position
for the Labor Party to take, and it was on the basis of that position that
many people who previously voted Greens, for example, voted for the Labor
Party this time around.
I tell you what, Madam Speaker, there are some people wandering around out
there who sure have buyer's regret. They actually believed the Labor
Party and the Leader of the Opposition, Rebecca White, when she said, 'We
will remove poker machines from pubs and clubs, we will provide what is
effectively a just transition for the industry through some compensation
measures, but we believe it will create substantial social and economic
benefits if we remove poker machines from pubs and clubs'. Not that long
ago the Leader of the Opposition went on statewide radio and made it
really clear that the industry had won. The industry not only got the
Government on board, it now has the Opposition - what it wanted.
The reason we believe parliament needs to have this debate today, and will
have it again, is because according to the Treasurer there is now around a
year before the legislation comes back to this place that would revoke the
deed and embed the toxically dangerous individual licensing model. That
is the licensing model that the former Gaming Commissioner, Peter Holt,
said would cause substantially more harm than the current monopoly deed.
Who wheeled out the former Gaming Commissioner? Labor's Treasury
spokesperson, Mr Bacon, in the lead-up to the election.
Madam Speaker, you can understand why people get jaded and cynical about
politicians. You can understand why people think we say one thing and
then do another after the election. That is because the major parties in
Tasmania and Australia do just that. On gambling policy, the Liberals'
position has substantially shifted from the original position, which was
for a price-based market mechanism. We had the joint select committee
through which Federal Group and the THA put in their proposal, which was
by the Liberals in Government not long after. The use of the words
'individual venue model' in their policy document - this is the Liberals -
is a shift towards the language used in the THA and Federal Group joint
submission and away from their market mechanism approach. We can see what
has happened. The Federal Group and the THA have paid for a Liberal win
and they have the policy they want along with an extra $6.8 million in
funding to the Tasmanian Hospitality Association.
We now see what has happened in the Labor Party. At a federal level, the
ALP secures about $700 000 to 800 000 a year from poker machines.
Nationally, the Labor Party is heavily reliant on the money coming out of
the pockets of some of Australia's most marginalised, impoverished people.
The Labor Party should hang its head in shame and they should stand with
the Liberals because you are both as contemptable as each other on this
social and economic issue.