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Will the Public Get a Say on Pokies?


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Tags: Gambling Industry, Pokies, Anglicare, Monopoly Deed, Steve Old, Federal Group

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Do you agree that poker machines cause profound social and economic harm in Tasmania? 

Do you acknowledge Anglicare Tasmania's polling which shows that 84 per cent of Tasmanians want poker machines out of pubs and clubs? 

If you acknowledge these facts, how can you as Premier not act given this once-in-a-generation opportunity to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs, as is the community's wish? 

In your Government's response to the upcoming expiry of the Federal monopoly deed, the Treasurer made it clear that your Government does not want to give Tasmanians a real say on the location, number, type and design of poker machines in Tasmania. 

Why has your Government given more weight to the voice of Steve Old and Federal Hotels than it has to the majority of Tasmanians who want the pokies misery to end?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and for once again outlining the Green's view, which does not necessarily correlate with the community view, as you claim.  To answer your question, we are acting on this important issue.  We have acted sooner than we were required to because we wanted to set out a very clear policy framework in which these matters could be properly determined and canvassed.  We have brought forward this issue to give certainty to Tasmanians, including those in the business community, those with existing entitlements -

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER -

Order.  The member has asked a lengthy question, so give the Premier the opportunity to answer.

Mr HODGMAN - There were existing arrangements put in place under former governments, which were supported by a Labor-Greens government.  Over the four-year period I do not recall ever hearing the member for Denison -

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER -

Order.  Member for Denison, every time the Premier makes a comments there is a comment back.  This is not a time for discussion or debate.  You have asked the question;
there was a lengthy preamble.  The Premier will be given an opportunity to answer.  As I said earlier, maintain some self-control.

Mr HODGMAN - Madam Speaker, I was making a point that I do not recall the member for Denison, now Leader for the Greens, doing in government what she is now asking this Government to do.  It was the member for Denison who failed to take the opportunity to do some of the things in government that she is now demanding of us. Notwithstanding, we have set out a very clear policy framework.  We have stated some positions which we think are appropriate and which are the result of consultation and engagement with members of the community, including those who have an interest in this sector. 

It is important to refute the suggestion made by the Greens that Tasmanians will not have their say.  We are opening up a very robust and transparent inquiry which is not in any way constricting, via the terms of reference, the ability for Tasmanians to have their say in that process.  Our view is that these matters should be properly canvassed.  There should be an opportunity, which is why we have proposed a joint select committee to inquire into and report on potential structural features of the arrangements, including the ability for those who participate in that forum to speak to 'any other matter incidental thereto.' 

We are broadening the terms of reference to allow people to have their say.

The other important thing we are doing is putting to tender the arrangements with gaming machines.  This is something no former government was prepared to do.  It is a significant shift in policy.  It will allow us to fully understand the value of these arrangement and ensure we secure the best possible deal for Tasmania.

We also want to consider as part of the process we have outlined, in advance of when we needed to in order to provide Tasmanians with some clarity about the Government's policy position, the need to review harm-minimisation measures.  We need to constantly look at their effectiveness.  We want to look at community support and the important role that plays.  We want to give communities a voice in determining the future location of EGMs in their community.  We believe this has also been a missing piece in the regulatory framework, which we are acting on. 

These are things we are doing to ensure an appropriate balance, a certain regulatory environment, and a certain investment environment.  We make no apology for supporting those in this industry who have invested, who sustain and create jobs across the state, including in many regional communities, and who are part of a lawful recreational activity and part of an industry structure - not without some issues, as we acknowledge.  For those affected by problem gambling, we want to ensure that the mechanisms the government has in place, harm-minimisation measures and their effectiveness, are also subject to ongoing review.