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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 3 December 2020) . . Page.. 139 ..

The government’s Pathway to 4,000 gaming machine authorisations by 2020 proposed the creation of the diversification and sustainability support fund, whereby the government agreed to match industry contributions for the first three years of the DSSF’s operation.

There are also extra incentives and supports for small and medium clubs, including $10,000 community club grants to support viability. The 50 per cent gaming machine tax rebate serves to support their capacity to pursue revenue streams unrelated to gaming, which will continue until 2022. The administrative burden on small and medium clubs has been reduced by allowing them to submit quarterly, rather than monthly, gaming machine tax returns and payments. A small and medium clubs liaison function in Access Canberra has been established as a single point of contact for regulatory and administrative issues, and assistance to support diversification activities.

However, COVID-19 has thrown unprecedented challenges at the ACT and the club sector. Supporting the club sector through the COVID-19 public emergency has formed an important part of the overall public health response and will form an important part of the economic recovery.

As Mr Parton stated in his motion, gross gaming machine revenue has decreased by around $40 million this financial year. However, it should be noted that the actual net revenue impact is lower as a result of significant ACT and commonwealth government support during the COVID-19 closures. We have provided a range of support measures to clubs through the COVID-19 economic survival package. These include suspending clubs’ obligation to make payments to the diversification fund for 12 months. It should be noted that the government has continued its own contributions. The Minister for Gaming can declare certain payments to be emergency community purpose contributions for a certain period during and after the emergency closure directions.

In April and March the government delivered emergency funding relief of approximately $3.3 million to clubs from the diversification and sustainability fund to support them to keep workers employed. Since June the government has offered cash payments of $15,000 to gaming machine licensees—clubs and hotels—in exchange for surrendered gaming machine authorisations. To date, a total of 129 authorisations have been surrendered by clubs under this incentive, for cash payments totalling $1.9 million.

What I have demonstrated here today is that the ACT government values and supports the ACT club sector and will continue to do so. That is why I support Minister Rattenbury’s amendments to Mr Parton’s private member’s motion.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong) (10.48): I would like to take a few moments to speak in support of Mr Rattenbury’s amendments and reflect on the fact that there is tri-party agreement and recognition that a significant contribution is made by community clubs. However, discussions have been going on for a long time now on the need to introduce sensible reform around gambling harm in this community.

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