Gambling Legislation Amendment (Transition) Bill 2012

Written on the 5 June 2012

I am pleased to be able to rise to speak on the Gambling Legislation Amendment (Transition) Bill 2012. I do so because there are a number of gaming venues in my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region, including of course Crown Casino. It is the largest gaming venue in the state, a very important venue that employs many people, contributing significantly to the Victorian economy each year and to the Victorian tourism dollar by providing entertainment for Victorians and international and interstate guests.

To return to the bill, my colleague Mr Elsbury has outlined what this bill entails.

The purpose of the bill is to amend the Gambling Regulation Act 2003, the Gambling Regulation Amendment (Licensing) Act 2009, the Casino Control Act 1991 and the Gambling Regulation Further Amendment Act 2009, and I commend the Minister for Gaming for his undertaking to consider issues pertaining to gambling here in Victoria.

Despite what Mr Pakula said about our lack of consultation and industry understanding -- I cannot remember his exact words -- the minister has consulted closely with industry. This bill will provide certainty to the industry, particularly in the transition that will occur from the existing gaming licence to the new arrangements. As we have heard, this was highlighted by the previous government in the arrangements that were to include those venues, including hotels and clubs, that were acquiring gaming machine entitlements that authorised them to possess and operate gaming machines at approved venues.

As Mr Elsbury highlighted in his contribution, the former Labor government looked at this issue, and I take note of the Productivity Commission's report of 2010 following a significant review of what was being undertaken across the nation.

The Labor government did little of substance in relation to the issues relating to ATMs. As I said, the Minister for Gaming has given careful consideration to this important issue, because, as Ms Hartland acknowledged in her contribution, gambling is an issue and there are significant problem gambling issues. Governments of all persuasions need to take on that responsibility.

The Minister for Gaming should be commended for the work he has undertaken with industry in taking problem gambling into consideration. I commend him for initiating the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. In terms of funding for the foundation there is an allocation of $37.5 million in the 2012-13 budget. This government is doing much on this issue, and the bill takes into account many of the problems that were not addressed appropriately under the former Labor government. We are undertaking that task.

I am pleased that both the opposition and the Greens are supporting the bill.

I noted that Mr Pakula mentioned licensing in his contribution to the debate. I have to agree with Mr Elsbury; I think the Victorian public should be very concerned about the mismanagement by the former government and the $3 billion legacy for the Victorian taxpayer. Mr Pakula talked about a legacy; that is another legacy that this government is sorting out. It is working towards ensuring that the Victorian taxpayer does not incur any further losses in that area.

Mr Elsbury also mentioned the proposed amendment, which will fix an anomaly in the legislation. It will align any future legislation with current practice, and I am pleased the amendment will gain support from those opposite. With that short contribution, I commend the bill to the house.

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