Minister will block gaming documents

The Bracks Government will refuse to hand over documents to the upper house inquiry into Victoria’s lotteries and poker machines licences, flouting a new parliamentary motion that allows seizure of such documents.

The inquiry committee, set up against the Government’s wishes after a motion from Liberal upper house leader Phil Davis, is set to issue subpoenas from this week for documents, tapes and related materials from the Government and gaming companies as it begins its probe into Victoria’s controversial gaming licensing process.

The Opposition parties used their majority in the Legislative Council last week to force through a motion that allows the house to vote to demand potentially embarrassing internal government documents.

But Gaming Minister Daniel Andrews has told The Age his department would not be co-operating with the inquiry despite the motion because his main role was to protect the integrity of the gambling licensing process.

„No document will be handed up to that witch-hunt, that circus, that could undermine the integrity of the ongoing licensing process,“ Mr Andrews said.

„What this committee is doing is trampling all over the commercial and legal frameworks established under the lotteries licensing process.“

Mr Andrews said he feared leaks of any documents released could hamper the commercial tendering process of awarding licences for Victoria’s USD 1.2 billion-a-year lottery sector.

The Government is seeking clarification with the Council president, Robert Smith, on the motion, which allows the upper house to demand documents previously unavailable to Parliament because of commercial or cabinet confidentiality.

Mr Davis said that Mr Andrews‘ refusal to hand over documents subpoenaed by the inquiry committee could put him in contempt of Parliament.