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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . .

Page.. 1626..


Mr Hinder are out of order as they do not fall within the scope of ministerial action within the ACT. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mr Smyth be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of the community gaming model in the ACT.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.35): This is a very important matter of public importance because it goes to the heart of the future of our club system in the ACT. I acknowledge those in the gallery today—some of the staff, the workers, the bosses, the volunteers, the board directors who are with us today. They understand that at the very heart of what they do with their club is service to the community.

That is the difference between a community club gaming model and gaming in other jurisdictions. There are a number of models that operate around Australia. You have WA, where only the casino has poker machines. You have the New South Wales model, where every man and his dog can get a licence for a poker machine they are so widespread. Or you have the ACT model—a model that I believe is contributing to the ACT being the jurisdiction with the lowest prevalence of problem gaming in the country, where they are held by the community for the benefit of the community. They are not held by big businesses.

Although our clubs are big business in the ACT, they are not big businesses like corporations. Corporations come and go. We saw it with Casinos Austria. In the good times they were here; when it went downhill, they left. Clubs do not leave. The people who work in clubs do not leave. The directors of the clubs do not leave when things get tough. They live here; they work here; they want to recreate here; they want to raise their families here.

That is the difference, and that is why the community gaming model in the ACT is so important. It is that connection to the community. And that connection to the community is the basis of their success. That is what we must protect. It is owned and operated by the community for the community. The dividend goes to the community and, in the main, it is spent locally. That is something worth protecting.

In the past couple of days we have had some pretty pejorative language from the Chief Minister, who I note has left the chamber. He said that clubs acted in a predatory manner and it was the big clubs that were driving the little clubs out of business. There is absolutely no evidence of that, and there is no evidence he can present that would confirm that, because it is not occurring and it has not occurred.

In the main, the little clubs or the clubs that are in financial trouble have gone to the big clubs and said, "Can you help us out?" Where would the community be without the Southern Cross Club, who looked after the yacht club and Wests? Those clubs would be gone. Or, indeed, the Labor club, which picked up the Stirling Bowling Club, which still operates in that suburb and is one of the few community facilities in Stirling? Where would we be without the Labor club? There you go—some rare praise from me for the Labor club. The RSL was assisted by the Hellenic Club. The list goes on and on.


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