Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5190 ..
MRS CROSS (continuing):
Clubs can provide money for sport and recreation; this is giving back to the community. Clubs can donate to and provide community infrastructure; this is giving-
Mr Hargreaves: The glasses are fogging up here, with fear.
MRS CROSS: You are red-faced, Mr Hargreaves. Did you have a long dinner?
This is giving back to the community. Clubs can fund and financially support non-profit activities; this is giving back to the community. Clubs can also put money back into the clubs; this is giving back to the community.
The only legislative requirements on clubs regarding community contributions are that they must donate 6 per cent of net gaming machine revenue to the community in a form other than reinvestment in the club, and that all clubs are to reinvest all revenues into the community.
Clubs can also donate to political parties and candidates. Why is that? It stands to reason that licensed clubs should not be able to donate to political parties, because donations to political parties are not community contributions. The reasoning is very simple: licensed clubs have a state-protected practical monopoly on gaming machines. This monopoly has been granted because clubs in the ACT are non-profit organisations and have to put all revenues back into the community. Due to this practical monopoly, licensed clubs have a legal responsibility to put all revenues back where? Into the community.
Funding political parties is not a community contribution, hence licensed clubs should not be allowed to donate to political parties and should be forced to put the money destined for political parties where? Back into the community. It is simple, isn't it? What all members of this Assembly must consider before deciding how they will vote on this legislation is the unique situation the ACT is in when it comes to gaming machines and their distribution. In no other jurisdiction in Australia are hotels and other profitable enterprises not given gaming machines because they are just that, hotels and profitable organisations.
While I recognise that there are a number of exceptions in the ACT where hotels and taverns are in possession of 60 class B gaming machines, it is the case that clubs are provided with gaming machines because they are non-profit licensees. This is not a matter of coincidence but a matter of law and principle.
Other core reasons that this bill should be passed are accountability and transparency. Sunlight remains the world's best disinfectant and money remains the primary source of corruption. Before I go on, I would like to point out that in no way am I implying that the Gambling and Racing Commission's distribution of gaming machines has been untoward. Further, in no way am I implying that any ACT government or minister, past or present, has been in any way influenced to provide benefits to certain clubs in regard to gaming machines, on the basis of political donations.
While I believe this has not occurred, I also believe there should be a mechanism or circuit-breaker in place to ensure that this does not happen. This sends me back to an ancient quote from a Latin satirist and moraliser, Juvenal, which I believe to be extremely relevant: "But who is to guard the guards themselves?"Who will stop licensed