Thursday, June 17, 2010

In the Ballot XXXVIII

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Ethnic Broadcasting Commission Bill (Ashraf Choudhary): creates a commission to investigate the need for an SBS-style multilingual Ethnic Broadcasting Service in New Zealand.

Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill (Te Ururoa Flavell): amends the Gambling Act 2003 to massively overhaul the regulatory regime for pokies. It allows local authorities after consultation to reduce the number of pokie machines in specific suburbs; eliminates the corrupt "pokie trusts" which see money from the poor used to pay kickbacks to bar operators or fund the hobbies of the rich, and instead requires gambling money to spent in the areas from which it is taken; prohibits the use of gambling proceeds to fund racing and racing stakes (i.e. more gambling); and requires pokie operators to install player tracking technology allowing users to monitor how much money they have lost.

As a liberal, I see gambling as a private vice, and I don't support its elimination. I would not want to see that power to reduce machines used to effectively create local bans, any more than I support the use of the RMA by wowsers to create local bans on prostitution. At the same time, there is a definite trend of exploiting the poor, and this needs to be countered. The information requirement will help reduce this, by showing people the consequences of their actions (gambling is a tax on people who can't do maths; doing the maths for them will show them that the house always wins). meanwhile, the changes to the trusts will eliminate corruption, while ensuring that gambling losses at least benefit the communities they are taken from, rather than used to pave the driveways of the rich. This is a worthy bill, and it deserves serious consideration by a select committee.

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (1080 Poison Prohibition) Amendment Bill (Rahui Katene): amends the HSNO Act to ban the import, manufacture, and use of 1080 poison in New Zealand. I don't know enough about this issue to judge whether its a good idea or not; no-one likes poison in their town water supply (as happened in Ross yesterday as the result of a DoC airdrop), or dead native birds, but no-one really likes possums either.

As usual, I'll have more bills as I acquire them.