Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 28 September 2010.)
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (21:34): I rise to make a brief contribution on this bill, which involves a conscience vote for Liberal members. I refer honourable members to our lead speaker the Hon. Terry Stephens' speech on 28 September in the Legislative Council which comprehensively covers this matter.
The main issue I wish to speak about relates to the fixed price of $50,000 for electronic gaming machine entitlements which, from memory, is something that we discussed last in relation to a gaming machines amendment bill in 2004. At that stage the Premier had made the hairy-chested boast that he was going to rip 3,000 machines out of the hotel sector, and we know that he has failed in that. Therefore, this bill is designed to get rid of that fixed price and see the rest of the machines that were promised taken out of the system. The bill also deals with issues of codes and barring, and I note there are a number of amendments from some of our crossbench colleagues which we will all need to listen to carefully and consider.
When we did debate this matter in 2004, I spoke at that stage and expressed some of my concerns about gaming machines. However, I think there are also a lot of urban myths that exist in relation to gaming machines. We are all concerned about problem gambling. I think that particular bill was the Chicken Little approach: we must do anything, even though we do not really know what we are doing. In 2010, we have the benefit of a considerable body of research into gambling matters, particularly for problem gamblers.
The Hon. Terry Stephens discussed in his speech something that I also came across when I had the gambling portfolio, whereby I think the consensus among the experts now is that it is preferable in terms of problem gambling to have fewer venues with a greater number of machines overall, because those venues that have a greater number of machines are more likely to have trained and experienced staff who can identify problem gamblers and therefore intervene. I certainly support that theory and believe that this measure will go some way towards that.
At the time of the 2004 debate I did not vote in favour of the bill ultimately because I did not think that it was going to address the real issues of problem gambling. It was a cobbled together concoction of spin in the usual fashion that we have unfortunately become accustomed to in this state in the last eight years. However, with those remarks, I indicate that I will be supporting the passage of the bill and I look forward to the committee stage of the debate so that we can consider each of the matters that are going to be raised.