Poker Machine Reform

Poker Machine Reform

20 September 2012 

Andrew asks the Prime Minister when will the government bring on its watered-down poker machine reforms.

Mr WILKIE: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, when will the government bring on its watered-down poker machine reforms? If you are unsure of parliamentary support, surely the best place to argue for it and to test it is right here in the parliament. After all, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing, and any reasonable person or party would be keen to support an unprecedented federal intervention in poker machine regulation.

Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:28): To the member for Denison: I share his concern about problem gambling and I share his concern about the impact that it has on family lives. I agree with him that reasonable people would want to see, through this parliament, laws that would assist people deal with the scourge of problem gambling. Reasonable people would want to see that. The government does want to see legislation—and it would be the biggest package of legislation to deal with problem gambling ever brought before a national parliament—which would require precommitment technology to be available on every one of Australia’s 200,000 poker machines. We do want to see technology that would assist people on those machines to monitor and set limits on how much they are spending. We do want to see legislation that would require new electronic warnings on poker machines and that would limit cash withdrawals from ATMs in pokies venues to $250. We also want to see a large-scale trial of mandatory precommitment in the ACT and we have such a trial agreed in principle with the clubs in the ACT. I would want to see this parliament legislate on problem gambling in the terms I have just outlined but it does require people to make a decision in favour of the community’s interest because the community is concerned about problem gambling. Unfortunately, every step of the way, as usual, we have seen the relentless negativity of the opposition.

Opposition members interjecting—

Ms GILLARD: Even though many of them have interjected during the course of this answer, not one of them intends to vote in order to assist people with problems with gambling. I also do note that there are others including the Australian Greens who have not committed to supporting this legislation. I believe this legislation is reasonable, I believe it is balanced, I believe it would do good and I believe people of good will should support this legislation.

Mr Wilkie: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order: relevance. When?

Mr Tehan interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Wannon is warned.

Ms GILLARD: The member for Wannon is someone who does not want to vote to assist problem gamblers. To the member for Denison, the answer is this:—

Mr Hawke interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Mitchell is also warned.

Ms GILLARD: we will bring legislation to this parliament when we know it has the support of this parliament. In order to get the support of this parliament, the member of the Wannon, who has just been very vocal, could announce that he is going to vote for the legislation. That would be one step forward. The Leader of the Opposition could do the decent thing and acknowledge that all members of the coalition will vote for the legislation. The Leader of the Australian Greens, Ms Milne, could announce that the Australian Greens would support the legislation. The legislation will be brought to the parliament when people in this parliament, beyond those who have already indicated, say that they are prepared to act on problem gambling. (Time expired)


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September 20, 2012

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