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Te Ururoa Flavell speech: Vote Internal Affairs Debate

Tuesday, 9 August 2011 9:26 PM

ESTIMATES DEBATE

In Committee - Vote Internal Affairs

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki)245FLAVELL, TE URUROA21:26:22TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki): Kia ora anō tātou. Kia ora e te Whare. I will just take a call in respect of the estimates debate on Vote Internal Affairs to say that the Māori Party’s interest in this vote relates specifically to the Gambling Act 2003. It has been reported that Māori people spend almost twice as much on gambling as non-Māori do. They each spend approximately $686 per year compared with $376 per year for non-Māori. This is a highly significant figure, as the Māori median income is half that of non-Māori. I raise this issue on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, because essentially it is about the health and well-being of tangata whenua.

It is about whānau ora. Although all eyes in Aotearoa this year will be on the Rugby World Cup, I also highlight an important item on the international radar next year. The fourth International Gambling Conference is being held in Auckland on 22 to 24 February 2012, hosted by Hāpai Te Hauora Tāpui - Māori public health, a gambling and addictions research centre at Auckland University of Technology, and the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand. The theme is te ao hurihuri me te petipeti—the world of gambling today. It reflects the fact that across the world gambling industries are changing and evolving, expanding into new markets, and reaching new demographics. I look at the harm minimisation section of the estimates and, in particular, at the introduction of the integrated gambling platform. Basically, this allows jackpots to be automatically downloaded, letting jackpot winners continue to gamble without a break.

The Māori Party shares the concern of the select committee that this would be contrary to the principles of harm minimisation. One of the statistics, that most Māori youth—that is, 20 percent of the Māori population—are six times more likely to develop gambling problems than non-Māori youth, is one of the things that really scares us. We have to care, and we have to do something about that sort of statistic. From the estimates alone it would not appear that the social hazard of gambling harm has been really seriously thought about. Just 2 months ago the Government was proud of its breaking news about the building of a convention centre in the heart of Auckland. Despite the concerns raised by the Māori Party and other groups such as the Problem Gambling Foundation, it seems that the Government appeared not to give the issue too much of a second thought. Well, I can say that the Māori Party does care.

TE URUROA FLAVELL245 We are concerned about the social impact of increasing numbers of pokie machines and gambling tables at the Skycity Casino*, not to mention other high-risk casino gambling around the country. We have campaigned on the challenge “People before Pokies” to focus on the people and communities this money is coming from. Pokie machines are concentrated in our most vulnerable communities and 40 percent of the revenue from pokie machines comes from problem gamblers That is basically why I developed the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill, a member’s bill to give real power to local authorities to keep the number of pokies down or, even better, eliminate them completely. The bill also put the onus on venue operators to keep track of each gambler’s overall losses and time spent gambling using a player tracking system, if you like. This is particularly relevant given the flow-on effects of the integrated gambling platform. It will be a sad day when profits from pokies are more important than people, and I can say that the Māori Party is here to ensure that that day never comes. Kia ora tātou.

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