Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 996

Senator VIGOR(3.59) —The latest-and once again late-report of the Australian Capital Territory Gaming and Liquor Authority, GALA, gives some insight into the problems confronting the Australian Capital Territory while the Department of Territories bumbles along untrammelled and the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes) keeps well away from any type of proper administrative oversight The Australian Capital Territory definitely needs self-government. We need an elected body in the Australian Capital Territory which would make it possible for the types of problems that Senator Reid has brought up today to be aired in a better and more appropriate forum than the Senate. I would like to take up a few little points from the report. The choicest lament in this report is the following statement on page 3 of the report:

With regard to the investment of Poker Machine Control operations moneys (Sections 92 and 45) the Ordinance is silent. However, at the request of the then Poker Machine Licensing Board, the then Minister approved on 20 September 1978 the amendment of the Poker Machine Control Ordinance 1975 to clarify the position. Such amending legislation is still to be implemented.

This does not seem to be an isolated case in the Australian Capital Territory. The wheels of industry turn very slowly in the Department of Territories, especially when the Attorney-General's Department gets an opportunity to delay the process during the actual drafting of ordinances. But a delay from 1978 when it was said it would be ready, until now, is a little long. It will be interesting to pursue this type of activity in the Estimates committee hearings. Why these matters rarely, if ever, come to any type of satisfactory conclusion needs investigation. It may mean that people will be better employed supervising young people's drinking habits rather than sitting in their offices supervising the flow of papers associated with ordinances, because nothing seems to happen anyway. In this case the Auditor-General twice drew attention to the investment practices of the Authority and commented that some of them appeared to be outside what is permitted within its ordinances. Only in July 1986 did the Attorney-General's Department furnish the Authority with advice about its legal position under the Poker Machine Control Ordinance and other ordinances. This may indeed not even have happened had it not been for the inquiry held by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. It should be automatic that a body which disagrees with an opinion of the Auditor-General should have access to the best possible advice within the Public Service on the legalities associated with these matters. The Department of Territories should not stand idly by and let these acts of omission happen. I believe that the problem of the secondment of staff from the Department of Territories to GALA which has been brought out excellently by Senator Reid, needs to be solved. The report states that there has been `little progress during the year under review towards finalising and passing the consolidated legislation' which would enable the staffing situation to be sorted out properly-yet another problem. The Authority notes that one of the consequences of this is that the ability to tackle extra under-age drinking is indeed seriously affected. The Authority's licensing section staff are all on secondment from the Department of Territories and subject to the overtime restrictions as set out by Senator Reid. Already the Department of Territories has had access or recourse to the Advance from the Minister for Finance. The Australian Capital Territory Trades and Labour Council has expressed its want of confidence in the senior managerial staff within the Department over the manner in which the crisis has unfolded. This is again another matter which will have to be ventilated through the Estimates committee.

I believe we have to make certain that we solve these problems and that they are not left in the bottom drawer in a safe place just because the Australian Capital Territory community is denied a voice in running the day to day affairs of this Territory.

Question resolved in the affirmative.