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Speech Notes For Gambling Bill Short Title

9 September 2003

Tackling the causes of poverty

Speech Notes For Short Title To Gambling Bill Committee Stages

HON. Matt Robson
Progressive Deputy Leader

I rise to speak with a sense of both pride, but also I admit Mr Speaker, and deep feeling of both regret and disappointment.

The disappointment is symbolized by the fact that this Bill is now called the Gambling Bill, not the Responsible Gambling Bill.

The Progressive Party supports people having fun and I've been known to put a bet on sport myself with little success But we are also deeply concerned to protect families and especially the children of those people afflicted with problem gambling problems.

Unlike United Future, and their potential partners in the next government, the ACT Party, we are serious about protecting the liberty, freedom and future of the children of problem gamblers.

In its first term, the centre-left coalition government was able to introduce the Responsible Gambling Bill and that wouldn't have been possible without the support of our then Supporting Party – the Green Party.

We live in an MMP world.

Neither the first Clark-Anderton coalition, not the current Labour-Progressive government, ever held a majority in this House.

The reality of MMP dictates that to make any progress at all in making the gambling industry more family-friendly, less potentially harmful to our society, the minority centre-left Labour Progressive coalition requires the support of at least one Opposition party – no different a situation than in the last Parliament.

In the last Parliament, I was confident that we'd get strong legislation which would please anti-poverty campaigners because the Greens were lined up here with us.

Because the Greens, like the Progressives, knew the importance of cutting and then capping the number of pokie machines in New Zealand.

We on the progressive Left knew the importance of not making it any easier for addicted gamblers to throw their families' dollar notes into pokie machines or to have an open slather Internet gambling regime and since we have 63 seats in Parliament we should have had much more to celebrate today.

The truth is that the Progressive and the Greens were making progress with Labour.

And then sometime earlier this year the Greens walked away.

They weren't getting everything they wanted, so they walked out the door.

No doubt there is momentary emotional satisfaction in walking away from issues when the negotiating gets tough.

We'll we didn't get everything we wanted either, but we refuse to walk away. If we walk away the legislation will fall because Labour and United have just 60 seats in this Parliament – not enough to enact anything.

And if we walked away the improvements to gambling regulations undoubtedly contained in this Bill would be lost. We'd make no progress at all.

I urge the Green Party, with all comradely respect from an ally on many issues, please consider the effect of your collective decision.

The lesson of what you have done on this Bill has ramifications for every other Bill of relevance to the centre left as a whole.

When you walk you leave a vacuum. When you walk Labour has only one direction it can turn – to United Future or NZ First – parties that are proud to say they'd go into coalition with ACT after the next election.

You left a vacuum of numbers which was filled by the United Future Party – a party that says it is pro-families but will vote against four weeks' annual leave for the most vulnerable families in New Zealand that most need four weeks to enable them to stay in the workforce while also having families – that is, to stay off welfare and in work.

I ask the Green Party again to please learn from the position we find ourselves in this House today.


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