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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 13943

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (13:38): The Greens will reluctantly be supporting these amendments because it is apparent that that is necessary for the passage of this bill. We started this week with a bill that certainly had some good features and some features that the Greens had been able to negotiate. It is a bill that nonetheless is far less than what is needed to tackle the misery that is caused by the pokies industry in this country.

During the course of this week the vultures of the pokie industry have circled this place and have made every effort they could to kill this bill and, if not, to try and weaken it. It is unfortunate that there has been some success, but I am very pleased that they have not been able to stand in the way of or kill the bill. We ought to remember that this is an industry that makes machines that we find here on a scale that we do not find in other countries, machines where someone can lose up to $1,200 an hour.

Many people over many years have put forward some sensible proposals as to how to limit that. We can have $1 bets. That would still allow recreational punters to have a go but limit the problems. That is a bridge too far. We could have mandatory precommitment. Apparently that is a bridge too far. As a result, we will still be left with machines that are able to and in fact are designed to suck as much money as possible out of people who cannot afford it to put into the pockets of the pokies industry. If you look at a map of the areas where pokies are found at their highest concentration, it is almost exactly the same map as areas of social disadvantage in Australia.

It is disappointing that after this bill leaves this place we will be in a process of trials and then potential future action. We hope that we can keep this on the agenda and see some reform. But as we head towards Christmas it is unfortunate that there will still be families affected because people in their families, who may in fact be the breadwinners, have a gambling problem and we have not taken as strong action as we could have on the day that this parliament rises.