Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
Premier, the story of poker machines in Tasmania is a tale of twin tragedies: the deep corruption of successive governments and the untold harm to tens of thousands of people. While premiers, treasurers and ministers have made backroom deal after dodgy backroom deal to line their donors' pockets, everyday Tasmanians have suffered the consequences. Pokies have directly caused financial ruin, homelessness, family breakdown, crimes of desperation, and suicide.
The evidence is clear that taking pokies out of pubs and clubs will save lives and livelihoods but you have made your position clear: you value political power and gambling industry profits over people.
With the introduction of your proposed pokies legislation today, you will join the sizeable club of Tasmanian politicians who have let the promise of money and favours overwhelm the public interest. Regardless of anything else you do, your legacy will include the continuation of untold pain and suffering inflicted on Tasmanians. Are you proud to be the new author of indefinite pokies corruption and harm in Tasmania?
Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens, the member for Clark, Ms O'Connor, for that question.
It is important that I put some facts on the record. Backroom deals? The legislation that will be in the parliament will be there for all to consider. It is extraordinary that you would make the claims you have.
In terms of support for others, that other Premiers over time may have provided, we have just taken $20 million off Federal Hotels and we have smashed the monopoly. That is what this legislation will do. It will smash the monopoly. It will put the future of small pubs and clubs in the owners' hands. It will enable them to invest and employ more people.
The other point that the Leader of the Greens walks away from - and I was hoping I would have some of these facts but I do not. But, from memory, I can tell you: the last social and economic impact study (SEIS) showed that the number of Tasmanians who gamble had come down. It demonstrated that the amount people were gambling had come down. It made the point that those who were at serious risk had come down. The harm minimisation measures are working. It is a fraction of a per cent - you know that - a fraction of a per cent of the number of people seriously at risk.
The Leader of the Greens ignores all these facts. Her policy position is that she wants to put all the pokie machines in the casinos, which is just extraordinary, which would increase the casinos' revenue. Those who want to continue to gamble would simply turn up at the casinos. The Greens' policy is ridiculous.
I reject very firmly the assertions made in the Leader of the Greens' question. I absolutely reject them. The legislation we introduce will provide a fairer system. It smashes the monopoly, it ensures that pubs and clubs do better, it ensures that the state government does better, and it ensures that we double the investment in harm minimisation as well.
I thought the Leader of the Greens could support these things but she remains wilfully blind to the fact that the harm minimisation measures we have in this state are as strong as anywhere in the country, if not stronger, and, importantly, are working.
I will finish by saying that I reject all of the assertions contained in that question.