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Gaming Control Amendment (Community Interest) Bill No.65 of 2016. Second Reading

November 10, 2016

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, I appreciate the Government's commitment to ensure community interest is paramount.  I do not have any concerns there.  The Leader says:

 

'This Government has previously made it very clear that its policy position was that the location of electronic gaming machines in new venues would be subject to a community interest test to be applied by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission.'

 

It also states in a dot point on page 5:

 

'introduce the community interest test to take effect upon proclamation of the Amendment Act (expected in early 2017).  Proclamation will occur following a public consultation process to determine the relevant community interest matters to be considered by the Commission. '

 

It goes on about regulations.  I appreciate what the Government is doing, but I find it interesting, as does the other member, that it has not been included in the gaming inquiry.  We have a select committee.  I notice the member for Mersey said that the bill does not fit within the terms of reference as they are and cannot be included.

 

With development in the state - this could apply anywhere in the state, particularly in the north where we have many blots on our landscape that have sat there for many years and unfortunately have not been developed - it is very important when people proceed with a development they do so with some certainty.  They do not expect the goalposts to be moved mid-game.  That is a difficult thing for anyone in the community, whether developer or otherwise.  I have a real problem with the retrospectivity.  I do not believe it is appropriate for us to be changing the game halfway through.

 

I appreciate from the briefings we had this morning, both with developers and with Government, about the stage when the development was put through.  In the DA, the Glenorchy City Council would have been dealing with a change of premises and so on.  They would not be looking to see what you are going to do on the premises.  Many of us have been on a council and know that a planning and development application is just that.  You do not go into the full depth of what you are planning to do.  You might, but it will not come into effect when people are deciding whether to approve that development in council. 

 

I note the time line - when it was purchased, the DA, application for liquor licence and keno, and in October applied for 20 gaming machines.  I note the comments by the member for Apsley, the number of machines out there; we have a cap of 3680.  We are looking for 20 in this development, and possibly 20 or 30 for the Moonah Hotel.  We are looking at two businesses.  It is not as if we are looking for the greater number.  We are looking at two that will apply in this case.  It could not be any more than 60.  You can only have 30 for a hotel, and 40 for clubs.

 

I wonder at the Government's retrospectivity.  Why is it retrospective?  It is only taking into account the two.  I appreciate community interest, it is extremely important, but if you are looking at community interest I believe it could be applied to many other areas.  Online betting; how many other forms of gambling are there?  We could go on and on, there are some real issues there.  It would also be interesting to talk to the people of Glenorchy and find out what they would prefer.  Would they prefer to have had the old building sitting there in a state of disrepair, for sale for who knows how long?

 

My mind does go back to the C.H. Smith building.  I know many of you will remember something like C.H. Smith in Launceston.  It sat there for around 26 years.  Now and then, it gets to development and it falls over.  Would the people of Glenorchy say, 'if you have a room there with some gaming machines in it, we will play them if we want and not play them if we do not want to', would we have a new venue?

 

I read an article during the briefings.  Many people were saying they were very pleased to have this Irish hotel.  Whether it comes to gaming machines or not, that is another issue.  I support the Government's bill.  I am surprised it is not part of the committee we already have.  I see no reason it would not be part of that.  I have problems with retrospectivity.

I can see it was brought up in March.  Any thinking person would assume that if you have a process in place, the process would continue.  You would not expect that process to stop.  I think the concern is the development around our state.  It is one thing the Liberal Government does try to push.

 

I was at a cocktail party last night with the Premier.  He talked about how the development is going, and how well the Government is doing.  This sends the wrong message to developers, that you can start something on a perceived course and halfway through you might have those goalposts moved.  I do not believe we can do that to anyone.  It does not send the right message to developer.  They need to proceed with certainty, regardless of who they are.  Even though I do believe community interest is paramount, in this case, with only two premises, I do not see the reason.  We are talking about 60 machines at most.  We have capped it at 3680, and as the member for Apsley said, with 3540 or so already placed.

 

I have not been convinced by the Leader that there is a need for retrospectivity with regard to the 20 machines before the Gaming Commission.  I will be supporting the member for Murchison's amendment, because I support the bill.  I question the reason for it now, with the gaming select committee.  I am against retrospectivity.

 

 

 

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