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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 186


Mr CHAMPION (3:03 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. What is the government doing to deliver on its commitment to address problem gambling?


Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I thank the member for Wakefield for his question. He does know the devastation that can affect individuals and families as a result of problem gambling. Like him, the government is committed to working to reduce problem gambling, particularly the harm that comes from poker machines. All members would be aware that we received a Productivity Commission report not long before the election. We made that report public. That Productivity Commission report highlighted the effectiveness of precommitment schemes. They set out the ways in which precommitment schemes do allow those who play poker machines to set their own limits and to be able to stick with them.

Members would be aware that the Prime Minister has entered into an agreement with the member for Denison to make sure that the Australian government, working with the states and territories, introduces a full precommitment scheme for poker machines by 2014. I would like to inform the House that today an evaluation is being released of a significant precommitment trial that has been undertaken in South Australia. This does demonstrate the benefits of precommitment. The evidence from the trial does show that precommitment encourages better money management and more informed spending decisions.

During the trial—just to give members a specific example—net turnover on poker machines by problem gamblers using the precommitment scheme decreased by 56 per cent, without impacting on the spending behaviours of those recreational gamblers. I do think this is a significant piece of evidence that will help us in our work. I also welcome the announcement today by the South Australian government that precommitment technology has now been rolled out to 74 gaming venues across that state. I think this does demonstrate the willingness of the states and territories to address problem gambling.

The Assistant Treasurer and I met with the member for Denison and Senator Xenophon last week, when we agreed to establish a ministerial committee, an expert committee, to advise us on these issues. That will include technical experts, representatives from the industry and those who are involved in counselling and supporting people who suffer from problem gambling. I look forward to that ministerial committee being established under the leadership of Professor Peter Shergold and I thank him for his willingness to undertake that task.

Today the House agreed with the government’s proposal and also, of course, agreed with the member for Denison that we establish a joint select committee on gambling. I look forward to members across the parliament participating in that very important committee as we work together to address the problems that do arise from those who have difficulties with gambling.