Te Ururoa Flavell - Sub-ordinate Legislation Bill
Te Ururoa Flavell Member of Parliament for Waiariki
Tuesday 20th November 2007
Madam Speaker, I am told that every Wednesday morning, deep in the precincts of Parliament, an industrious committee is faced with a sixty-minute marathon, in which a demanding schedule of regulations is put through the most rigorous parliamentary scrutiny.
Regulations, acting as the legal instruments of parliament, are examined by the Regulations Review Committee in so far as they demonstrate points of detail and the implementation of policy.
This particular Bill we are considering now, is a small Bill – only fifteen clauses all up – but as is typical with subordinate legislation of this type, it contains a range of varied items of law making of interest to us of the Maori Party.
Indeed, there’s a smorgasbord of choice here – an entre` of fish, supplemented with road user charges, animal products for the meat lovers, and chancing your arm with a main meal of gambling.
But as with every smorgasbord there are some items on the menu which do not always please the palate.
Having previously had our venerable co-leader Dr Sharples last speak on this Bill on the 11 October, and with his absence from the House today I thought it opportune to add some spice to the smorgasbord laid before the House today.
I note the Regulations Review Committee were satisfied with the responses of officials regarding this Bill and recommended it be passed without amendment. So the menu for the smorgasbord is actually a set menu and has been confirmed.
That being the case, I will move directly to commenting on a mains dish, rather then tempt the palate with an entree.
The dish I have chosen is gambling.
We in the Maori Party are pleased that levies are imposed which would assist in building capacity to deal with the ravages of gambling in our communities, particularly in the communities of the poor.
Let me remind us all, that for every one dollar received by a community group as a grant through pokie machines, three dollars has already been taken.
We do agree Mr Speaker with what the Green MP Sue Bradford had to say about the disproportionate manner in which, casinos, pubs and clubs were levied.
It was also heartening to hear Maryan Street say that the problem gambling levy would be reviewed in eighteen months as opposed to three years.
Mr Speaker we know that the communities, that is the communities of the poor, are not necessarily the communities which receive anywhere near the money taken from them.
Check out who gets the bulk of these community grants and you will see it is not the Otara’s, the Mangere’s, Ford Block’s, Bell Block’s or the Cannons Creeks of our society.
It is not the service organisations or sports clubs in the communities of the poor.
This brings me to the issue Mr Speaker of gambling amongst Maori.
We know from the work of the Problem Gambling Foundation that Maori do have some serious issues with gambling and I want to take this opportunity to address that.
We know from the research that pre-European Maori society did not have traditions of gambling.
It is also fair to say that the early Maori experience of gambling was generally positive with settlers.
Gambling then involved group interaction with the outcome, that is, the profits generated directly benefitting the participants.
The participants were in control and the profits from the activities directly benefitted their marae, church and community.
I remember card games, especially euchre and 500 and housie. There were the special fund raisers and fun was had by all.
The profits went to the marae, choir, local school or kapa haka group.
In speaking with older relatives they do not ever recollect being aware of problem gamblers as a result of those activities.
If issues arose, particularly those of child neglect as a result of these activities, group pressure was bought to bear to address the situation.
Songs were composed and I remember very clearly one composed by Dr Hirini Moko Mead, relating to an all night card game and a sober warning of children being neglected as a result.
Tahi, rua, e toru roimata, wha, rima, e ono roimata, ka whitu, ka waru, ka iwa roimata, kei whea ra a mama?
After all of these tears where is mum?
I also know that betting on horses was another activity where the benefits were individualized and the profits left the Maori communities in which the TAB’s were situated.
Again this was a social activity as relatives would sit outside the TAB sharing dreams, disclose losses from the week and cast aspersions on the whakapapa of the horses that did not win.
Needless to say it was with great wonder and often a misplaced sense ofmatakite which led many of my relatives to go on about how they picked a winner by interpretation of dreams.
It seemed that anybody’s dream counted. Some used to make up dreams for uncles and aunts – that was part of the fun.
Every dream had a winner, and post race analysis always managed to find that winner, the fault being with the interpretation of the dream.
While I am referring to what was seen as fun, the current situation with Maori and gambling is no longer a laughing matter.
Statistics from the gambling Helpline in 2005 indicated Maori were over-represented.
• 29.4% of new clients were Maori;
• 12.1% of significant others
phoning the Helpline were Maori;
In Face to Face Counseling:
• 31.4 % of new clients were Maori;
• 35% of the new clients were Maori men;
• 22.9% of significant others seeking counseling were Maori;
• Pokies were the primary mode of problem gambling for men at 72.6% and for women at 90.8%;
• 401 clients in the four weeks prior to seeking help spent $573,125, that is an average of $1,429 each. $357 per week.
Now , that is a problem.
It is with those statistics from the Problem Gambling Foundation that we in the Maori Party alert this House to the devastation caused by access to gambling particularly access to pokie machines can have on whanau.
The research shows that for every problem gambler, five other people are negatively affected.
We are supportive of this Bill but we caution that like tobacco smoking, we in the Maori Party take very seriously the damage to whanau done by gambling and especially the one armed bandits robbing people in the name of entertainment and for the "good of the community" .
In ending all I will say is “watch this space”.