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Hodgman Won't Concede Federal Monopoly on Pokies Harming Tasmanians

Parliamentary Activity - Thursday, 29 October 2015


Ms DAWKINS question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

When you were sitting next to Greg Farrell at MONA yesterday, did you think about Tasmania's 2 500 problem gamblers and the horrendous impact the Federal monopoly deed has on them and on their families?  Did you think about close to $200 million which has come out of the pockets of the mostly low-income Tasmanians in the past year, much of it flowing into the pockets of the Farrell family?  Berriedale, where MONA is situated, is in the Glenorchy municipality which last month lost $2 million to the Farrell family's poker machines.  Did the grim irony occur to you?  Will you stand up for battling Tasmanians and for MONA and commit to not extending Federal's monopoly deed before taking it to the next election?  Will you commit to consulting the public on the number, type and design of poker machines?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Bass for her question.  It relates to a deed, an agreement, that was struck by a former government,

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I have already warned the member for Denison and I hope she does not wish to be ejected today.

Mr HODGMAN - However, it is not one that we are inclined to tear up and nor, indeed, did the Labor-Greens government move to do so when they had the opportunity.  Notwithstanding, we have outlined very clearly the process for the way forward.  There is quite some time for that process to be undertaken as per the provisions of that deed which are publicly known and clearly understood.  We are not rushing to speed up that process but given the recent interest and proposal brought forward, unsolicited, by MONA, that has given people an opportunity to look at existing arrangements.  As has happened, the proposal has not been proceeded with and the 'business as usual' situation as exists under the deed now continues.  As the Treasurer has said, we are very determined to ultimately make a decision that is in the best interests of Tasmanians. 

Ms O'Connor - Tear up the deed, then.

Mr HODGMAN - You had your chance to do that in government, and you didn't.  We are not a government that tears up agreements because that breeds uncertainty.  That is the sort of thing that would damage the very high levels of business confidence that currently exist.

I take the opportunity to inform the House of the comprehensive harm minimisation framework that exists under my Government.  We are awaiting the completion of part B of the social and economic impact study which is examining the effectiveness of harm minimisation measures and programs. 

The amount of money spent on gaming machines between 2014-15 - around $193 million - is similar to the amount spent in the previous financial year of $191 million.  However, we are very mindful of the negative impacts that gaming can have on segments of the population and it is an issue of interest and concern to us.  We will be guided by the data and the evidence that comes forward through the impact study.  We will also ensure that our efforts are ranked highly amongst other jurisdictions in terms of how we deal with harm minimisation and assisting those in difficulty.  As has been previously been pointed out, Tasmania, in many respects, has nation-leading harm minimisation programs, that, we, as a government, are keen to support and improve.

I have made clear what was not discussed at yesterday's fortuitous meeting.  It was refreshing to listen to somebody independent with expertise talking so positively about our state being abuzz.  It is a place that more people want to visit and where more people get the opportunity to work and to enjoy a job.

Ms DAWKINS - Point of order, Madam Speaker.  I asked about the number and type of machines and if the community will be consulted on that.

Madam SPEAKER - There were more questions in the question than those two alone, and members know my ruling in that regard.  If you are going to ask a number of questions within the one question allocated, then that allows the minister a broad scope.  He had finished his answer.