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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13395


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (21:49): I rise to speak about a recent flyer distributed in my electorate. I usually prefer not to give air to these types of campaigns. Distributed locally but mass produced in another state—I do not want to upset the member for Shortland—in New South Wales in Lane Cove, which I understand is on the North Shore of Sydney, it was not even printed in Queensland.

Given the misinformation that is included in this flyer, I am compelled to outline the numerous examples where I feel I and the Gillard government have been grossly misrepresented and, I would suggest, defamed—not that I would pursue the people that have put it out there for defamation, but it is certainly very misleading. Last week, the Australian Hotels Association, whose name is attached to the flyer, distributed this flyer through their head office here in Canberra in response to legislation recently introduced by the Gillard Labor government, the National Gambling Reform Bill 2012. For the people of Moreton who did not receive this, it has a pretty rough picture on the front cover, but it is an accurate picture of me, so I cannot really complain about it. It does have the correct address for people to make contact with their federal MP, and I am always happy to talk to my constituents. Regarding the member for Petrie, the picture was slightly out of date—they had her with blonde hair. They also had the wrong phone number and the wrong address for her electorate. It would have been quite frustrating for those people trying to contact her. At least they had the right address and email address for me. And, as I said, I am always happy to talk to people about any issue. My office has assured me that we have had a lot of people contact me about this flyer—all to support the legislation that we have introduced.

Nevertheless, the flyer is quite confusing. The first claim that I would like to rebut is the statement that the laws introduced by the Gillard Labor government would create a 'Big Brother database'. That claim is made on page 2: 'Labor's laws would create a Big Brother database'. They suggest that players will be tracked on a government database and that player details will be provided to 'the ATO, Centrelink and the department of child safety'. This is totally wrong; totally incorrect. It could not be any further from the truth. There are specific provisions in the Gambling Reform Bill 2012 that ensure that all player information will be de-identified and will only be used to extract general problem gambling data. It is not about individual gamblers, but about general gambling.

In addition, these provisions also clarify that no individual information will be provided to or is able to be obtained by any government agency, whether it is the department of child safety, the tax office or Centrelink, which are listed here. It will not be able to be used by those government agencies. That is the first claim, that Big Brother claim, refuted.

Secondly, the Australian Hotels Association claims that these laws will greatly reduce community funding. They have two photographs on page 3. One is of a young boy a surfboard with the heading 'Community support will disappear'. The second photograph is of a young hospitality worker. The heading says 'Local jobs will be lost'. I would like to place on the record that I have recently met with representatives from the gaming industry, particularly from my local electorate and from my local clubs. We met at the Sunnybank Sports Club. I sent out an invitation to all the clubs in my electorate and representatives from big, small and medium-sized clubs—even those with under 10 poker machines—attended. I received a letter from one of my local clubs in which they outlined that the recent Liberal-National Party state government gaming tax increases introduced at the recent mid-year budget are a major constraint on their revenue and will significantly reduce community funding. These gaming tax increases are indeed far more costly for small pubs and clubs than this government's legislation to reduce problem gambling.

One could argue that the Liberal-National Party tax hikes for small clubs and pubs are a bit of a revenue raiser and an attempt by them to extract money out of the community. They will have no benefit for the Moreton community. These Liberal-National Party state government tax hikes will also directly impact on staffing, which will perhaps have some impact on local jobs, although the clubs that I met with were comfortable with the current situation—I should stress that.

The flyer that has been distributed—this glossy four-page document—fails to mention these recent state government changes, the tax increases. It also incorrectly attributes job losses to the federal government's legislation to minimise problem gambling. This is all under the heading, 'Graham, why are you voting to hurt our community?' The reality is that the Gillard Labor government has entered into broad consultation with the industry and has listened to ensure that clubs and pubs with fewer than 10 machines, such as the Oxley bowls club, representatives of which came along to the meeting the other day, only have to replace the technology or machine when they need to—that is, at the normal turnover time—minimising the cost for small clubs. Perhaps the time and money of the Australian Hotels Association would be better spent condemning the state government for their blatant cash grab rather than fabricating material to fill this incorrect four-page flyer. I would actually write to my local state member about this issue and have him take it up with the Premier, but I did just see on the news that he has been banned from attending Liberal National party meetings, because he was not able to sign an affidavit saying that he was loyal to the Premier. I will have to find someone else to complain to.

Another anomaly I would like to point out is that the flyer claims that technology 'should be trialled before forcing venues to spend over a billion dollars on new technology'. I know Queensland clubs and pubs have been ahead of the game when it comes to adopting new technologies—far ahead of New South Wales, I point out to the member for Shortland—and we have addressed problem gambling with over 50 venues already in Queensland having trial voluntary pre-commitment. I would therefore suggest that this technology has be trialled, particularly in Queensland, and is proving to be effective. In fact, Queensland has one of the lowest rates of problem gambling in the country: 0.37 per cent. It is streets ahead of our neighbours south of the Tweed.

In addition, the federal government's legislation will also formalise the Australian Capital Territory conducting a trial into mandatory pre-commitment, so that we can better analyse and understand the differences for players between the two types of pre-commitment technology. I am also unsure where the figure of $1 billion actually comes from; that seems to have been plucked from the air. My understanding is that the new technology is estimated to cost approximately $2,000 per machine. I have had advice that it would be significantly less for each machine. Given Queensland poker machines already have advanced protocols, these machines will only need to be updated and the technology installed rather than purchasing new machines—which I understand might have to happen south of the border.

These changes are to be phased in over time and many pubs and clubs in my electorate will not need to be compliant until 2020. You have eight years to actually prepare yourself for such an eventuality. I do not think that is being rushed through. As I have mentioned, other Queensland clubs will already have the voluntary pre-commitment technology, meaning that these legislative changes will mean very little for those clubs and pubs. This flyer that has been distributed in Moreton—went into my mailbox; obviously my opponent would not have got it because he does not live in my electorate—has a lot of misinformation. I think it has misled my community.

I suppose at least I can be grateful that, as I said, they did get my office contact details correct and my office even today has been making contact with the many people that have phoned up to say they thought it was me saying, 'We need to do something about problem gambling.' They were phoning in to offer their support. Maybe Des Crowe for the AHA needs to have a look at his material. The Australians Hotel Association are crying poor. It is my understanding, after talking to the member for Shortland and other MPs, that this has gone out to many marginal seat holders and other Labor Party members around Australia. They are crying poor, but that would have been a significant cost. They are arguing about the reduction in revenue for their pubs, but they are able to spend these thousands of dollars distributing ineffective and incorrect materials throughout Australia.

I understand that the views and claims in the flyer are not actually the views held by all hotels across Australia. I know many of the pubs in my electorate very well. Certainly I know my local pub, the Red Lion Hotel, that I can walk to. I do have a range of pubs: the Sunnybank Hotel, the Lucky Star Tavern, the Glen Hotel at Eight Mile Plains, the Oxley Hotel, the Oxley Tavern, the Muddy Farmer Hotel at Annerley, Chardons Corner Hotel and Rocklea Tavern. I have certainly had a beer in all of those pubs at some stage over the last five years. At some of them, I have had too many beers perhaps. I know that when talking to the local publicans and the people in charge of some of the chains in my electorate, they were not even aware that this information was being distributed. It is not exactly a grassroots campaign; it is a shiny brochure that is misinformation of the worst kind. I am looking forward to the Australian Hotels Association sending out correct information in the future and correcting the record.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! Time for the grievance debate has expired. The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order are not to be. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 21:59