A motion calling on the government to release modelling on the social and economic impact of its proposed new poker machine licensing legislation has been supported by the upper house.
The motion, introduced by Nelson independent MLC Meg Webb, also acknowledged Australia’s situation having a disproportionately high number of poker machines per capita and the fact machines could be programmed to decrease the likelihood of addiction.
Ms Webb called on Premier Peter Gutwein to respect the outcome of the vote.
“Either this vital modelling work exists and should be released immediately or it has not been done which is a shocking oversight requiring urgent addressing,” Ms Webb said.
During the debate, Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest said many people did not understand how addictive poker machines were programmed to be.
“How can we, as a civilised society, sanction this exploitation? Half all design features can be removed and this should be done in the forthcoming legislation,” Ms Forrest said.
“Spin speeds and bet limits can also be used to lower the impact on players without necessarily detracting from the leisure experience.”
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Ms Forrest said the government’s claim prior to the last state election the removal of poker machines would result in jobs losses “was the most ridiculous, dare I say deceitful, claim I’ve heard made in a long time.”
She said poker machine losses in Murchison in 2018-19 were about $12.3 million.
“Of the $3.7 million commission retained by the pubs, $1.4 million was paid to Network Gaming for the EGM hire. That left $2.3 million. Of the $12.3 million in losses, $10 million left my electorate,” Ms Forrest said.
Mersey independent MLC Mike Gaffney said he supported the motion wholeheartedly and the call for the government to undertake a social and economic study on the new legislation was reasonable.
“We have to realise whatever we as legislators agree will be in place for another significant period of time,” Mr Gaffney said.
He said poker machines should only be placed in destination gambling venues such as casinos.
“There is a known accepted link between problem gambling and accessibility,” Mr Gaffney said.
Elwick Labor MLC Josh Willie said Labor would support Ms Webb’s factual motion and the production of a social and economic study would inform debate on the bill.
Montgomery Liberal MLC Leonie Hiscutt said a number of studies, including Social and Economic Impact studies into gambling undertaken every three years, had already informed the government’s Future of Gaming Policy and the government opposed the motion.
Huon independent MLC Robert Armstrong said he did not support the motion in whole but supported the factual aspects.
Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean said he agreed changes should be made to poker machines to reduce harm but he would wait to hear other speakers before deciding how he would vote.
Launceston independent MLC Rosemary Armitage said she could go either way on the motion and also wanted to hear the final speakers.
In summing up, Ms Webb said she was surprised the government was not supporting the motion because Ms Hiscutt did not say the government disagreed with anything in the motion.