Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 12 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 3663..
MR BERRY (continuing):
Somebody was discussing a club that had a ski lodge or houses down the coast and so on for its members. In the circumstances that are being presented here, it is open to a group of members to come in, take over the club, dispose of the assets, and use them for a purpose which was never intended. That is what these amendments set out to do. They should be defeated. They are ridiculous. They fly against the original purposes of clubs.
MS CARNELL (Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts) (4.54): Mr Speaker, it's absolutely true. If people want to set up a club and run it however they want to run it, as long as it is under the appropriate pieces of legislation, whether it be the corporations legislation or, alternatively, the associations legislation, they have every right to do so. The element here that is different is the fact that we, collectively, have given these organisations, clubs, a monopoly on poker machines. Poker machines produce a large amount of money for those clubs. The clubs also have significant social responsibility as a result of us entrusting that monopoly to those organisations.
The directors of those organisations must, according to everybody here, act in the best interests of the community, and they should be elected by the community, their members. All members of the community can join the clubs, that's true, but because those directors determine how a large amount of money is spent, Mr Speaker, surely there should be some input by the membership, and some transparency, in determining how that large amount of money is spent. That doesn't seem to me to be a dramatic approach.
Mr Speaker, all clubs have constitutions, and that seems to be being totally neglected or overlooked by everybody here. I don't know of any organisation where the constitution can be changed by anybody but the membership, or by a majority of a defined group of people. So if a group comes in and attempts to takes over, shall we say - that is the worst scenario that everyone is putting forward here - there is still a constitution to protect the way the club works, to protect the underlying reason the club is put in place. The directors cannot just change a footy club to a bowling club, or a bowls club to a Liberal club or a Labor club or whatever, and that seems to be the approach that those opposite have taken.
Mr Berry: That's not true, is it, Harold?
Mr Humphries: You've got to change the articles, Wayne. You know that.
MS CARNELL: You do have to change the articles, and the articles cannot be changed, at least in most circumstances, by just a few directors. Mr Speaker, we are talking about something important here. We in this place have given clubs an extraordinary amount of power over a large amount of money and over what is a significant social responsibility, and that is gaming machines.
The directors of those clubs, surely, Mr Speaker, should be elected in a democratic and transparent way. That is simply not the case at the moment. How do members actually know where their money is going? Certainly not from annual reports. They show just a profit and loss, a balance sheet. You certainly cannot tell where your money is going from one of those on any basic sort of a balance sheet or profit and loss. Mr Speaker, club members deserve to have at least some say on their board. I think it should be more than 50 per cent, but this Assembly, if it is not willing to go to 50 per cent, should ensure