Gaming Bill passes house unamended

A Bill looking at the state’s gaminglaws passed through the Upper House unamendedon Thursday, following several hours of debate.

The last sitting day of the Legislative Councilfor the year was dominated by thegaming debate, which includedseveral attempted amendments which did not pass through the house.

In March this year, the government said its policy position on gaming wasthat the location of electronic gaming machines in new venues would be subject to a community interest test.

President of the Legislative Council and Nelson Independent MLC Jim Wilkinson said it was always good to see debate in the house.

“The major amendments related to retrospectivity, that is, should the Bill be retrospective to March when the government’s statement was that there would be no more licenses issued without a community interest test,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“It was also argued that when the licenses come up for renewal after one year, two years, five years, that those new licences have got to pass a community interest test as well.

“The good bit about it was that they were debated and people had their arguments put forward in a very good way –nobody could say that the Legislative Council didn’t give it the proper scrutiny and debatethat it should have had.”

Murchison Independent MLC Ruth Forrest said looking at the issue of gaming, we had to take a cautious and well-considered approach to change.

“I think the retrospective action of any application requires close scrutiny, particularly where it potentially disadvantages parties, orindividuals, or groups,” Ms Forrest said.

“Change is needed and this is one of the reasons that the government has thought to establish the joint select committee.

“If there were no poker machines anywhere in the state, small pubs and clubs in the regional areas wouldn’t have to be competing with other to try and maximise their profit margins.”

On the last sitting of the year, the Upper House also discussed and passed the Mental Health Amendment Bill 2016.

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