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Thursday, 9 February 2012
Page: 544

Senator DI NATALE (Victoria) (12:51): I also seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator DI NATALE: Given what we have just heard from the senator, I am not surprised that the government is reluctant to release details of the costings, particularly if those costings were made on the basis of third parties such as the poker machine industry. We know that $1 bet limits are the simplest, cheapest and most effective way of achieving poker machine reform. We also know that in Victoria, where a bet limit was introduced reducing the limit from $10 to $5, it was done with a minimum of fuss and with no outcry from the industry and no complaints—it was done very, very quietly. We also know that the proposal to reduce poker machine bet limits to $1 was costed independently by groups such as the Australia Institute and a number of academics at in the order of $200 million. That is wildly different to the government's costing of $1.5 billion.

This is important because the government has indicated that, when it comes to $1 bet limits, the only barrier to their implementa¬≠tion was cost—not support in the parliament; cost. Given that cost is a major barrier, according to the government, to implement the most effective, simplest and, in our view, cheapest way to achieve reform in this area—reform that is supported by over 60 per cent of the Australian community—why shouldn't the Australian people get to see the basis on which that $1.5 billion figure was made? Why shouldn't this parliament get the opportunity to see on what basis those costings were made? If the senator is correct and those costings were made on the basis of third-party advice—that is, advice from the poker machine industry—I can understand why they would like to keep those costings under wraps.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is that notice of motion No. 636, standing in the names of Senators Di Natale and Xenophon, be agreed to.