Page 133 - Week 01 - Thursday, 3 December 2020

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community’s interest and particular groups providing a focal point for their communities. Of course that has evolved over time but, nonetheless, the clubs remain a really important part of the social fabric of this city.

As we all know, 2020 has been a difficult year for the whole community in Canberra and beyond. I know the club industry has keenly felt the impacts of temporary closures and ongoing social distancing requirements, and I thank the clubs for playing their part in following the COVID-19 public health restrictions which have been so important in keeping our community safe. I know the clubs have also stepped up in a range of other ways through providing meals and really thinking about how they can use their capabilities to support the community during some of the difficult periods of COVID.

The parliamentary and governing agreement for the Tenth Legislative Assembly sets out this government’s vision for the next four years for reducing harm from gaming whilst supporting sustainable clubs. This government sees clubs as spaces for Canberrans to gather with their friends and families for events and activities where the risk from gambling harm is reduced. We want clubs to be safe spaces for the whole community and we want them to be there in the years to come, as I spoke about in question time yesterday.

The government will engage with the club industry, unions and other key stakeholders through a ministerial advisory council. I appreciate Mr Parton’s remarks on this. I am very keen to get that conversation going with the clubs and the other stakeholders that have an interest in this space. We need to think about the sustainable future of clubs, and we can best think about that through having an open dialogue and hearing each other’s views.

Based on the conversation that I have had with some members of the clubs’ community in recent times—not all, but some—I know plenty of people are up for that conversation and are looking forward to having it. I appreciate the positive feedback I have had in the first few weeks of this term from the people I have managed to speak with who have said that they are also looking forward to that conversation.

The club industry has already shown its willingness to engage with the previous government’s reform agenda, most notably through the pathway to 4,000 gaming machine authorisations by 2020. With the support of incentives made available under the pathway and subsequent COVID-19 support measures made available to clubs, the number of gaming machine authorisations in the ACT has reduced from 4,946 in August 2018 to 3,868 today. The parliamentary and governing agreement includes a commitment to take a further reduction in the number of gaming machine authorisations to 3,500 by 1 July 2025. To get there we will look at incentives for clubs to further reduce their gaming machine authorisation numbers and explore the options for some clubs to go pokie free. Not every club is going to go pokie free, but we think that a number of clubs might look at a different business model, and that is the conversation we plan to have with them over time.

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