Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Chair. Minister, are you able to update the House on the work of the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission in relation to harm minimisation measures following your referral to them? Also, in the discussion paper that was provided by the Liquor and Gaming Commission there was reference to the Norwegian model which is a mandatory card based system. In our submission, we have recommended that the Government adopt this approach, and be a nation leader in harm minimisation.
How open is your mind to genuine harm minimisation measures through this process?
Mr FERGUSON - Genuinely open. In fact I have been pretty descriptive in my public statements on the matter. I look forward to seeing the report of the commission. I informed the committee earlier today, that I'm advised the report is on time to come to me by 30 June. I further committed that I will release that advice, as well as the Government's response, by the end of this calendar year.
The sooner the better; but because I don't know what is in it, I wouldn't be able to forecast what potential measures might be agreed or taken by Government and the commission, nor when they would be implemented. It is all fair game as far I am concerned, in terms of looking at those recommendations, and I want them to stack up.
I don't want them to be feel-good initiatives; I want them to be do good initiatives, that will work and not curtail people's right to go off and gamble if they wish to; but I'd like it to ensure that we have measures in place which really do work for people who are unable to control their behaviour for whatever reason, or that they are vulnerable at a point in time.
That's why I have asked for that work to be done with the sanction of parliament to do so.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister. Is your mind genuinely open to the Norwegian card system which sets mandatory expenditure limits on a daily, or monthly basis, and which, on the evidence, actually has a measurable harm reduction effect?
Mr FERGUSON - I don't know enough about that case study, but I have asked the commission to do the research that parliament and myself have asked them to do in terms of the three initiatives that were in that direction: facial recognition; card based play; and pre-commitment.
We have asked the commission to do that work, to research it, look at overseas and interstate examples of where it has been done well, or poorly, and the impacts of those. But importantly, when I last reviewed this matter, I also made sure in my instruction to the commission that they report to me on the practicality of how the preferred model could be implemented in the Tasmanian context, and by when. I genuinely look forward to the response.
Ms O'CONNOR - Ultimately, as I recall it, the decision is made by you, based on the advice of the Liquor and Gaming Commission, in terms of what harm minimisation measures will be adopted?
Mr FERGUSON - That is my understanding, but the commission itself, has significant powers as well.
Ms O'CONNOR - I know.
Mr FERGUSON - I don't know what will be reported to me, and nor am I aware of something that I am just not telling you.
Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, that is fine. Can I ask, in making that decision on what the future of harm minimisation looks like, what objective will be in your mind? Is it about genuine harm minimisation, or is it about harm minimisation that the industry is to prepared to accept?
Mr FERGUSON -There may be a balance between the two. What we are looking for is something that works; doesn't affect people's right to gamble; but also would prevent a situation where a person, at a low time in their life, could go and lose their house on a poker machine.
Ms O'CONNOR - You are open, then, to some sort of mandatory card based system?
Mr FERGUSON - I am in the position, where I am awaiting the report. Government will form a view on the appropriateness of the recommendations of that report, and will be fully accountable to the public because I intend for the Government's decisions and response to be released, as well as the original advice.
Ms O'CONNOR - Final question. Can I ask if you will be consulting the community sector, before you make a decision?
Mr FERGUSON - I am not sure I will make that commitment, because that is what the commission has been doing for Government.
Ms O'CONNOR - Will you consult the industry before you make a decision?
Mr FERGUSON - I simply don't want to make any particular commitments about that. I look forward to seeing the report. Thank you for reminding me, because part of my direction to the commission was that it must consult, so that we have an informed basis on which to make decisions.
I don't want to forecast that, because there may not be a need for another round of consultation.