Key Points: Limits on poker machine use, and no clear signals on tax
reform, mean uncertainty for the poker machine
In return for Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie's support
for a Gillard Federal Government, it is reported that the
Australian Labor Party has agreed to implement reforms to limit
withdrawals from club ATMs and implement technology to stem
uncontrolled poker machine use on every machine in the country by
This move, which has the club and hotel industry concerned, has
been described in certain quarters as expensive and unlikely to
reduce problem gambling. With no exact details as to the form of
the legislation, uncertainty remains in the industry as to the
impact of the proposed reforms.
Adding to the uncertainty, questions remain as to how the
Federal Government would implement the reforms without the
States' agreement. With gambling revenue accounting for a
significant percentage of total state tax revenue (for example, up
to 9 percent in NSW), the States will no doubt be dragging their
feet to come to any agreement which is likely to reduce this
revenue without satisfactory compensation.
It has been reported that the Federal Government is seeking
legal advice as to the enforcement of the reforms without the
States' help. Without an express head of power in the
Constitution, the Federal Government may seek to rely on such
the power over interstate trade and commerce (section
the power over banking (section 51(xiii));
the power over telecommunications (section 51(v));
the corporations power (section 51(xx)).
It appears that this may be another example of Henry Review
recommendations again being put on the back-burner. In respect of
gambling taxes, and the interaction of the Federal Government with
the states, the Henry Review recommended that:
gambling taxes should focus on recouping economic rent;
gambling tax concessions should be eliminated for clubs.
Subsidies should be implemented through direct expenditure;
a review of the allocation of responsibilities for regulation
and taxation of gambling should be undertaken to minimise conflicts
with state revenue raising and addressing problem gambling.
The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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