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Friday, 15 November 2002
Page: 6535


Senator MURRAY (2:40 PM) —I will briefly remark that one of the reasons—I assume it is a reason for the opposition; it is certainly our reason—that we have approached this is that we have taken advice from a group of people with a great deal of experience in dealing with the unfortunates who are addicted to gambling and have descended into bankruptcies. That group includes the Interchurch Gambling Task Force, which comprises people such as Mr Tim Costello who are very well known for very good work in the community and have face-to-face and `street' experience which is certainly unlikely to be matched in this chamber—certainly I do not have it.

I would remind you that the Interchurch Gambling Task Force said that for a number of years they have been concerned about the impact of bankruptcy provisions on the seeking of assistance by people who have developed a problem with gambling. This has become particularly evident since the mass availability of gaming machines in Victoria since 1992. I would give the minister my strongest support for his obviously sincere concern—and I hope it is the concern of the government—about the excessive provision of gambling outlets in this country. They are resulting in a social outcome which is extremely harmful, and they really do need to be curtailed in every sense. I am hoping that cross-party support for that is building, not just individual views that are held around the place.

The Interchurch Gambling Task Force said that numbers of people presenting to services for assistance have gambling problems and should be encouraged to consider bankruptcy as a means of getting out of those problems and finding their feet. Addiction is a terrible human burden. I am not skilled enough to say how you resolve it or what you do about it, but the Interchurch Gambling Task Force did say that this is one way of dealing with it. We have moved the amendment, taking their advice. I would suggest that the government consider it seriously on that basis.