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Terms of Reference Just Liberal Policy

Parliamentary Activity - Wednesday, 6 April 2016


Ms DAWKINS question to TREASURER, Mr GUTWEIN

The Premier has made it clear the Government will not budge on pokies, yet each poker machine in Launceston, excluding the casino, takes $52 170 from the local community. The recent interactive map from Anglicare tells us this is $10 000 more than the average wage. The terms of reference for the joint select committee look like Liberal Party policy instead of an open consultation with Tasmanians with very little detail and omitting investigation of the style, design, number and location of poker machines in Tasmania.

Will you commit to including these points in the terms of reference?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that question. Before I respond to it, The most important question that you should ask is that of your Leader and as to why she did nothing at all during the period she was in government. When the Greens held the balance of power, there was not one move on this. I think that demonstrates the political hypocrisy of what we are hearing here.

During March, I made a ministerial statement on the Government's position in relation to the future of gaming in Tasmania post 2023. In that statement I set out a number of key matters. The first matter was the guiding principles and proposed positions that the Government would propose for casinos, Keno, and electronic gaming machines, and the structural and regulatory arrangements for those post 2023, noting that the earliest that a change could occur under the current deed was from 2019.

The second matter was that we intended to establish a joint House committee to publicly test our policy proposals in a very transparent and open way that would be conducted not by the Government but by this Parliament, including the upper House. Previous governments have operated in the reverse fashion. They have conducted negotiations in private, in secret, and then they have announced an outcome.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER -

Order. I remind the House of the convention that we be very careful about referring to individuals who do not have an opportunity to defend themselves as we do in this House. Throwing around people's names is becoming far too frequent, either by interjection or through contributions or in questions. I urge members to be cautious or careful in that regard. On this occasion it was not to do with staff members, but I hear that frequently as well. I ask that members consider what they are saying and how they are referring to people outside of the House. As we know, it can be referred to the privileges committee.

Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, in that ministerial statement I outlined what the Government sees as essential elements for the terms of reference for the proposed joint select committee report. However, ultimately, the framing of that committee will be dealt with by the floor of this House and on the floor of the upper House. We will be proposing that the joint select committee, subject to the agreement of this House, will have three members - one Liberal, one Labor and one Green.

First and foremost, under the terms of reference, which I will be tabling later today, there will be a consideration of the Government's proposed 2023 gaming structural framework.

This will be an open and transparent consideration of the Government's proposals regarding: the pokie licence for clubs and pubs going out to tender; the numbers of machines in hotels and clubs, as well as the community, for the first time, being empowered to have a say on the location of machines in new venues; the Federal Group's continuation of its licences in relation to Wrest Point and Country Club casinos; and also the concept of up to two high-roller casino licences also being available in Tasmania for the first time.

Other key elements for the proposed terms of reference for the joint select committee will be: an assessment of options, such as the tender and how the awarding of the licence and operation of pokies in hotels and pubs might be framed; consideration of future taxation and licensing arrangements, as well as a review of harm minimisation measures and their effectiveness; and also the consideration and duration of the term of licences for the various gaming activities post 2023. Later today, I will table that motion. Tasmanians will be able to have their say on all of these matters.

We are being very transparent here. We will not hide any aspect of our proposed policy from scrutiny. We want Tasmanians to have the opportunity to put forward their views on any aspect that we are proposing. I want to be clear that the Government does believe that gambling is a lawful form of entertainment for many Tasmanians. We do not want to close down the hotel and club market. We are not hiding from that view. However, equally, we do not want to see an increase in the number of pokies in Tasmania from the level that exists today, and that is why we propose to reduce the cap to 3 530 - a reduction of 150 machines.

We also hold the view that we need to review harm minimisation measures and their effectiveness, including the community support levy. We know that there are a number of stakeholders who hold varying and contrary positions about what should happen with the pokies. Some want to see an end to pokies altogether and there are those that would like to see some of the existing restrictions removed. Let me be crystal clear on this - the committee will be able to hear and test all of these views. Whilst I know this will not suit the political aims of some in this chamber, to argue that Tasmanians will not be able to put forward their views on these important matters -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER -

Order. The House will come to order or I will call on the next question.

Mr GUTWEIN -

Tasmanians will be able to put forward their views on these important matters. I know that will not suit you, but we will provide that opportunity for Tasmanians. We will consider the evidence put forward by participants during the committee process and we will consider the committee's findings before, as a responsible Government should, finalising the position that we will take on gaming after 2023.