About this Item
SubjectsGambling; Ex-Servicemen; Law and Legislation: New South Wales
SpeakersBlack Mr Peter; Carr Mr Bob
BusinessQuestions Without Notice

Page: 13057

    Mr PETER BLACK: I direct my question to the Premier. What is the Government's response to requests from ex-service men and women that two-up be legalised on Remembrance Day and Victory in the Pacific Day?

    Mr BOB CARR: Honourable members would appreciate my keen interest in gaming issues. The game we now celebrate as two-up was first recorded in Australia in 1798, when the colony's first Judge Advocate, David Collins, noted its popularity—and how frequently its players lost their money! It raged through the goldfields in the 1850s and, as we all know, was played extensively by Australia's soldiers during the First World War, becoming an invariable part of Anzac Day in the 1920s and 1930s and an annual fixture to which the police were ritually oblivious. We decided to make honest men out of all those Diggers with that fabled piece of legislation, which I might call the one day of the year Act, the 1998 Gambling (Two-up) Act. All honourable members would recall the colourful debate on that legislation.

    In recent months the Government has received representations from the Services Clubs Association—the body representing RSL and kindred clubs—asking that two-up be legalised on other days of significance to returned service personnel, such as Victory in the Pacific Day, 15 August, and Remembrance Day, 11 November. They argue that the steady increase in public observance of such commemorative days now justifies a broadening of the law. In the words of Graeme Carroll, the chief executive officer of the Services Clubs Association:

    It's about keeping our heritage alive and maintaining this link between the past and the present.

    What is the honourable member opposite muttering about? He is talking to himself! I should tell him that I cannot see anything wrong with this idea. I will leave that intellectual exercise to test him for the rest of question time. One of the charities most involved in problem gambling, the Wesley Community Legal Service, a body dealing with problem gamblers, has confirmed it has never encountered a problem gambler addicted to two-up. That is an interesting bit of trivia for everyone to take home with them. If anything, a slight extension of two-up to other days of significance would fit in with the Australian commemorative tradition when we remember our war dead not with strident nationalism but with a beer, a laugh and a few of these harmless games.

    Although I am happy to support this idea in principle, I want the proposal discussed with the Ex-Services Association, the RSL, the Vietnam Veterans Association, the Naval Association of Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force Association, which those opposite should stop sneering at, as well as NSW Police and the clubs and hotel industry. A great spirit of consultation will be taken on this important move. My office has received wise counsel from Mr Rusty Priest, who advised that consultation with the major ex-service associations must be undertaken to consider the views of all veterans. As always, Rusty's advice is spot on and we intend to take it. I look forward to meeting with the Services Clubs Association and other veterans bodies—

    Mr John Brogden: Have a beer with them.

    Mr BOB CARR: —in my case over a temperate cup of tea, and discussing these matters in the spirit I know the House would enjoin.