Poker Machine use in Tasmania

June 25, 2020

[Text of original motion at bottom of this page]

 

[3.29 p.m.]

 

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, my view is probably along the lines of the member for Windermere.   I am little betwixt and between.   I understand the 'take noting of' because I assume it is accurate.  I really appreciate the member for Nelson and her genuine concern, having worked for Anglicare.

 

I am thinking:  Do I support it?  Don’t I support it?  I am not fond of (2) because we calling on an action, but then if we relate it to the new bill that will come up in 2023, obviously we would need that done, and that is something the Government would have to do.

 

I have a question about paragraph (1)(f), which reads -

 

The Social and Economic Impact Study … notes limitations to the collection of accurate and reliable data…

 

However, paragraph (1)(g) says -

 

To date, the Tasmanian Government has not released and made available for public scrutiny and discussion, modelling on the social and economic impact of the proposed new poker machine licensing arrangements to be introduced in Tasmania in 2023.

 

So it does relate to the bill.  Paragraph (2) says -

 

The Legislative Council calls on the Tasmanian Government to undertake and publicly release modelling on the social and economic impact of the proposed new poker machine licensing arrangements to be introduced in Tasmania in 2023.

 

Have they already done it, or have they not?  In (1)(g) we are asking them to release it, saying they have not released it, but in (2), we are asking them to do it.

 

Mr Dean - Thank you for pointing that out.  It does relate to the bill.

 

Ms ARMITAGE - It relates to the bill, but (2) says we are calling on them to do it but (1)(g) is saying we are asking them to release it.  They cannot release it if they have not done it.  I am a little confused with that.  I do not have a problem with taking note of things.

 

I have not done all the research the member for Nelson has done to say whether this is accurate or not accurate.  I accept that some people have real issues with gambling; I agree with the member for Mersey - I would like to see the betting limit reduced.  I think that is probably a good thing.

 

Having said that, the member for Windermere mentions a relative or a family friend.  My mother loved the poker machines.  She would play golf at the golf club - she was a member of the country club.  She would then go to the gym and then have dinner.  She had a limit of $50 and she would play a few games of Keno.  She was not a problem gambler, but it was her enjoyment.  When she went to the shack at St Helens, she went to the RSL club there - same thing:  she played golf, had dinner, and that was her entertainment.

 

Many people do it responsibly.  We have to be careful we do not become a nanny state.  I say that with respect to the member for Windermere, with his smoking.

 

Mr Dean - There is a difference with that.  It kills people.

 

Ms Webb - This kills people too, in all due respect.

 

Ms ARMITAGE - It does, but sometimes we have to take responsibility for ourselves and it is not always easy.  I am betwixt and between.  I hope more people may speak.  I will certainly listen to the member for Nelson in closing.

 

I could go either way.  I could accept it, taking note of it, but then I am confused with the section on public scrutiny.  I accept that it is a real problem for many people.  I am sure much of this will be done before we get a bill before us.  I admit that I have not done as much research as obviously has been done by the member for Nelson.  I accept that all this is correct - I know she is very thorough with her research so I am certainly not going to doubt anything that is there.

 

I hope a few more people will speak and I will listen to them with interest.

 

 

[EXCERPT FROM THE MEMBER FOR NELSON'S REPLY]

 

[3.51P.M.]

 

Mr PRESIDENT - I remind the member she cannot revisit her second reading speech to reply.

 

Ms WEBB - Okay.  I was just answering a question about online gambling during COVID-19 and bringing information to answer that question, which I do not think I covered in my initial speech if that is allowable.

 

I will mention that I have reached out to people who have lived experience both locally and interstate to ask what has happened in terms of people's use of poker machines not being available and whether they have used online gambling.  The anecdotal reports are very low levels of transference.

 

There is research being done now so down the track we will know for sure what has happened, but so far, I am hearing low levels of transference.  I will move on and wrap up.

 

Ms Armitage - Have you answered my question yet?

 

Ms WEBB - No, I probably have not.  I am sorry; I know people are mindful I might take too long, so perhaps-

 

Ms Armitage - It would be good.  I was with the Deputy Clerk previously when the Leader was speaking so I am not sure whether she mentioned whether they had done it or not.

 

Ms WEBB - Yes; can you remind me what your specific question was?

 

Ms Armitage - My question is on 1(g), which says that 'to date the Tasmanian Government has not released and made available for public scrutiny' modelling and so on, but in paragraph (2), it causes them to undertake and publicly release it.  They cannot publicly release it if they have not undertaken it.  Have they undertaken it and not released or have they not done it?

 

Ms WEBB - When I was preparing this late last year, they had not released it, which is what point (1)(g) relates to.  To date the Tasmanian Government has not released and made available for public scrutiny and discussion modelling on the social and economic impact of the proposed new poker machine licensing arrangements to be introduced.  That was part of noting in this motion.  That is factually true.  Because it had not been released and the Government had not provided information about whether it had been done at that point, I phrased point (2) not knowing whether it had been done and certainly only knowing it had not been released -

 

Ms Armitage - Well, should (2) be removed?

 

Ms WEBB - Well, no, I do not think so.

 

Ms Armitage - If they have already undertaken it.  All I am saying is, in (1)(g) you are saying -

 

Ms WEBB - The Leader confirmed in the Government's contribution that it has not yet fully undertaken it.  I heard that Government contribution to indicate, from its assertion, that there is a range of factors that mean they have not been able to fully undertake that, and will not be doing it until further down the pathway of this legislation.  That was really specifically outlined by the Leader.  They are yet to undertake it, from that advice.  This call stands, is pretty straightforward and fairly standard.  It is calling on them to undertake, then publicly release that.  The Leader, in her contribution from the Government, confirms that is going to be happening.  It is a fairly uncontroversial call to support actually, given it has been confirmed it would happen.

 

Ms Armitage - I missed half the Leader's contribution because I was with the Deputy Clerk, so that is why.

 

Ms WEBB - Does that slightly clarify for you?

 

Ms Armitage - Slightly.

 

Ms WEBB - At the time the motion was tabled and still, (1)(g) stands as something we can note non-controversially as true, because it has not been released.

 

Ms Armitage - You mean the part that has been done has not been released, because it has not all been done?

 

Ms WEBB - I am not sure to what extent it has been done.  The Leader did not go in detail about what has and has not.  I am talking about the totality there in a broad sense.  I want to make sure I did not miss any other key questions people had.

 

[MOTION - TUESDAY 17 MARCH 2020]

 

5 Ms Webb to move ⎯

 

(1) That the Legislative Council notes:
 

(a) Australia (with the exception of Western Australia), has an approach to poker machine policy and regulation that is significantly different to virtually all similar countries globally, resulting in Australia having:

 

(i) a disproportionately high number of poker machines per capita;

(ii) a typical style of poker machine that is regarded as ‘high intensity’; and;

(iii) a comparatively high level of harm due to the use of poker machines.

 

(b) Poker machines typically in use in Australia are designed and programmed to include features that increase the likelihood of addiction, with evidence suggesting that normal use of Australian poker machines is likely to cause addiction in one in six users, these features relate to:

 

(i) spin speed;

(ii) bet limits;

(iii) maximum jackpot;

(iv) near misses;

(v) losses disguised as wins; and

(vi) return to player.

 

(c) It is possible to modify the design and programming features of poker machines to decrease the likelihood of addiction, and such modifications would have little impact on the recreational use of poker machines by Tasmanians.

 

(d) The impact of harm caused by poker machine use on Tasmanian health and mental health services, family support services, welfare services, criminal justice system, domestic violence services, housing and homelessness services, productivity and level of unemployment, is not currently measured and monitored by the Tasmanian Government so as to effectively inform policy development and regulation relating to poker machines.

 

(e) Data available on poker machine use indicates:

 

(i) at least 23,000 Tasmanians are in at-risk groups (low, moderate and problem gambling);

(ii) one in three Tasmanians personally know someone with a serious problem with gambling on poker machines;

(iii) 79 per cent of Tasmanian Gamblers Help clients have poker machines as their primary form of gambling; and

(iv) 40 – 60 per cent of the money taken by poker machines comes from people addicted to the machines or are classified as at-risk.

 

(f) The Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) 2017 notes limitations to the collection of accurate and reliable data in Tasmania on:

 

(i) the use of poker machines, including accurate frequency and expenditure; and

(ii) employment figures related to poker machines in hotels and clubs.

 

(g) To date, the Tasmanian Government has not released and made available for public scrutiny and discussion, modelling on the social and economic impact of the proposed new poker machine licensing arrangements to be introduced in Tasmania in 2023.

 

(2) The Legislative Council calls on the Tasmanian Government to undertake and publicly release modelling on the social and economic impact of the proposed new poker machine licensing arrangements to be introduced in Tasmania in 2023.

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