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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12126

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (09:42): Last night I watched the ABC program Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation and it reminded me just how much impact poker machines have in Australia, how we as a federal parliament have failed to address that issue and how state governments throughout the country share that failure as well. Poker machines cause enormous hurt and enormous damage. I have had parents come along to me and tell me about their son who took his own life. I was talking to the member for Sydney a moment ago, and she was telling me about somebody that she is very close to whose husband took his own life. Yet we turn a blind eye to it. We let it happen. We let it continue. We allow this hurt to continue in our community.

Last night this program emphasised to me just how immoral the poker machine industry is. Programs are designed by psychologists and mathematicians. There are formulas that are put in place to ensure that people end up losing all their money in the end if they have an addiction to poker machine gambling. The program also emphasised the addictive nature of poker machines. They impact on the same area of the brain that cocaine does. That is how addictive they are. The DSM-IV has moved poker machine gambling into the substance abuse section of that document.

We sit in this parliament and we do nothing about it. We had an opportunity and we walked away from it. Legislation was introduced; it is gone, and people continue to hurt. It is those people that are most disadvantaged that poker machines have the greatest impact on. I know that my electorate has one of the highest numbers of poker machines and one of the highest numbers of people that are impacted by gambling. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be attracted to them.

And then I look at the power of the lobby groups. I look at the clubs and the campaign that they raised against members of this parliament to frighten them into not supporting the legislation. It is unforgiveable. You have Woolworths and Coles as major poker machine owners. I think that as a nation we have actually got to address this issue. We need regulation, we need some form of precommitment and we certainly should not be allowing ATMs to sit beside the poker machines. It is not good enough. We need to act.