Question with Notice: Royal Commission into Crown Casino
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : My question is to the Premier. The royal commission into Crown
Casino recommended that despite Crown being unfit to hold a casino licence; despite being in breach
of the law; despite being in breach of their contract; despite engaging in conduct that is disgraceful,
illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative, it could not tear up its licence because of the risk it would
cause considerable harm to the Victorian economy and innocent third parties. Surely this demonstrates
the decision by government to set up the biggest casino in the Southern Hemisphere and give them
special treatment is a failed experiment that has created a corporation that is too big to fail. Will the
government now scale back the size of the casino, the number of pokies and the gaming floor and
implement strong harm minimisation measures to protect the Victorian community and prevent this
from happening again?
Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) : I thank the member for Prahran for his question. I
take it he is not having a go at the royal commissioner, who has actually done his job well. He may be
having a go at former Premier Kennett, I think. But in any event we will let that one go—he can defend
himself. The last part of the question is the most important part: what will you do, essentially, to make
sure this does not happen again? Well, we have had a process. As the minister has indicated, we will
implement all of the recommendations that the royal commissioner has provided to us. And in fact,
for the benefit of the member for Prahran, we have gone beyond the recommendations that have been
made by the royal commissioner. So Crown’s licence has been cancelled.
Mr Hibbins: On a point of order, Speaker, for the benefit of the Premier, the substantive question
was actually about scaling back the size of the casino. The Premier it seems in his answer has reframed
the question. The question was about the size and the scale of the casino.
The SPEAKER: I thank the member for that point of order. I heard the question, but the Premier
is being relevant to it.
Mr ANDREWS: Thank you very much, Speaker. It was a very wideranging question. I am sure
that the royal commission was mentioned, and that is what I am going to now. We have gone beyond
the recommendations of the royal commission. Crown have essentially lost their licence, and unless
and until they can establish, to the benefit and the confidence of the special manager, former IBAC
Commissioner O’Bryan, reporting to the regulator over these next two years, then their licence will
end in two years time.
That is what we have done today. What is more, we have repealed some very generous
compensation—or we will, I should say, repeal some very generous compensation arrangements put
Mr ANDREWS: And we know by whom they were put in place. I will not anticipate debate,
Speaker. I am conscious of your guidance.
The third area of course is we will go beyond the recommendations of the royal commission and
increase fines something like tenfold. What has occurred at Crown is not only shameful, it cannot be
allowed to occur again. By establishing the royal commission, accepting the recommendations, going
beyond them where that is warranted, we will make sure that this cannot and will not happen again.
Crown are more than on notice. Their licence will be terminated, and it will be terminated in two years
time unless and until they can demonstrate that they are fit and proper to hold such a licence. It is
unique. It is the only one of its kind in our state, and with that comes responsibility and obligation, and
I intend to make sure on behalf of all Victorians—our government intends to make sure and I hope
this Parliament intends to make sure—that Crown not only complies with the letter but also the spirit
of their obligations. There is a matter of public trust here. It should never have come to this. Crown
should not have behaved the way they have, but we are determined, all of us, to make sure that it never
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): Supplementary question. The Premier referred to accepting the
royal commission’s recommendations. Now, the royal commission stated:
… the most damning discovery by the Commission is the manner in which Crown Melbourne deals with the
many vulnerable people who have a gambling problem.
The government’s response has been to say that in relation to minimising gambling harm they support
these recommendations in principle, subject to further detailed analysis and consultation. Can the
Premier give a clear answer, and a commitment: will the government implement a mandatory
precommitment regime for pokies at Crown that is as strong as or is identical to what is recommended
by the royal commission?
Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) : I would simply refer the member for Prahran to
the government’s response to the royal commission. We are not about doing tick-and-flick stuff just
for the happiness of the member for Prahran, although one does doubt whether he might ever be happy
about anything really. We are not about doing some tick and flick to keep the member for Prahran
happy. We will do it properly, and that means some things you have to accept in principle and then go
Mr ANDREWS: This is a foreign concept for some who have never had a day in government, and
let us hope they never ever do. We will go and do the hard work to make sure that it is not just words,
that it is in fact action. It is not just policy, but it is about outcomes. With the greatest of respect to the
member for Prahran, the government’s response is where we can agree completely, we have. Where
there is more work to be done, we have agreed in principle, and be in no doubt that work will occur,
ably led by the minister. I look forward to updating the member for Prahran and all members once we
can speak a little more freely about some of these matters later during this sitting week.