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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13777

Mr COULTON (ParkesThe Nationals Chief Whip) (18:14): I rise tonight to briefly voice my opposition to this National Gambling Reform Bill 2012. My views on this are well and truly on the record, but I do want to reinforce my position.

I do not play poker machines—and, quite frankly, to me, this bill is not about poker machines. This bill is about small communities. In my electorate of Parkes, more often than not, the social hub and meeting place for small rural communities is the local club, many of which have poker machines. These places are not great gambling dens. There might be 10, 20, 30 or so machines around the club and they get played sometimes only a couple of nights a week. The returns from these machines pay for things like the greenkeeper on the golf course, someone to maintain the bowling green and sponsorship for the local football club, including football guernseys, sporting equipment and things like that. They are places where our returned servicemen can gather to socialise and communicate and have fellowship. They are places where residents of these towns can go to have a relatively reasonably priced meal and enjoy some company in their own community. Unfortunately, this bill was concocted for a political purpose, not a social purpose. It is a bill that was concocted to mollify the member for Denison, even though he has lowered his expectations somewhat, but even this watered-down bill will still have a detrimental effect on the clubs and pubs in my electorate.

Another issue with this bill is associated with the ATM withdrawal limit of $250. In many country towns and villages, financial services have largely vacated the field and, more often than not, the only avenue for cash is the ATM at the local bowling club or the pub. If there is a $250 withdrawal limit, it will have an impact on how these people go about their lives. Quite often, pensioners, who are paid their benefits electronically now, rely on the ATMs in these venues to get their weekly money out for their expenses. Local people earning wages are paid electronically, and they rely on these ATMs for cash. The $250 withdrawal limit will have a serious, detrimental effect on how these people conduct their business.

I will not take up any more of the House's time, but I will summarise by saying that, when legislation is introduced for a political result rather than to try and deal with a social ill, the outcomes will always be negative. I oppose this bill. I will be voting against this bill and I certainly hope that the majority of the House do the same.

Debate adjourned.