Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2285 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
the Government, however, is very disappointed with the low level of contributions and would like to see greater commitment from the clubs to assist charitable organisations, non-profit community groups and other disadvantaged groups in the community. One would think, Mr Speaker, that from a net profit of $7m from poker machines, even before some other associated costs, the Labor Club could have contributed significantly more than a paltry $17,000 to local charity - $17,000 out of $7m. By contrast, the Labor Club donated $375,000 to the Labor Party - a very worthwhile charity indeed.
For over 20 years clubs almost exclusively have been the beneficiaries of gaming machine revenue in the ACT, which is amongst the lowest gaming taxing jurisdiction in the country. Clubs have this monopoly on gaming machines on the basis that they exist for the benefit of their members and the community at large. On the basis of information available before us, the community at large does not seem to be doing very well out of this situation.
The report from the Commissioner for ACT Revenue has facilitated the transparency and accountability of clubs with regard to the use of gaming profits, and has provided clear evidence that the level of commitment of clubs to the wider community generally should be improved. In tabling this report, Mr Speaker, I would like to call on the licensed club industry to place a higher priority on its spending of gaming profits towards helping charitable, volunteer and community groups which exist to help the needy sectors of our community. I commend the report to the Assembly.
MR QUINLAN (3.43): Mr Speaker, I want to say a few words about the report. First of all, I would have liked to have thought that it would be presented to this Assembly before it was used in the public forum by the Chief Minister for quite obvious political purposes. I am also disappointed in the quantum of the figures contained in this report. The ALP is very happy to work with government in establishing a regime that might apply to clubs in relation to their contributions to charity, community, sporting and ethnic activities.
Let me also respond to some degree in relation to the contribution of the Labor Club to the ALP. I consider that within a democracy political parties are the very essence of community, as opposed to being excluded. If those on the other side of the house wish to exclude contributions to political activity from community, they do, by the same act, define themselves as outside the boundary of that definition of community. The contributions and the funding that the ALP receive are open - they are for all to see - as opposed to the quite secretive processes that have been employed by the Liberal Party in garnering contributions to their political ends and to their campaign funds.
Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, we would be very happy to work with government and to work with the Licensed Clubs Association on a regime that ensures that the community does benefit from the operations of the clubs and the privileged position that clubs find themselves in. I hope that we can minimise the political sport that is made of it at the same time.