Page 2107 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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I have spoken to a number of clubs and they have indicated that they are going to have to drop by about 40 per cent the money they give out to the community. When you are looking at about $9 million a year which is paid out to sporting groups, especially grassroots sporting groups, the junior sporting groups, when you are talking about $15 million worth of community contributions going to all manner of good things in our community, that is very significant. Where is that shortfall going to be made up?

I urge the government to look very closely at this $5.3 million extra revenue it thinks it is going to get on 1 July 2007. When we talk about gaming, we are talking about poker machines and we are talking about, effectively, clubs, and we are starting to see some real problems now. A number of clubs are really struggling. A number of clubs have gone to the wall already. Medium sized and even some larger clubs have struggled in recent times, and that looks as if it is going to continue.

I wonder whether even an increase like this, which the Treasurer I am sure would describe as modest, might actually kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Is the Treasurer actually going to get this money in two years time if a number of big clubs or even medium sized clubs go to the wall and those business simply are not there to generate the poker machine revenue that he seems to assume will be forthcoming and will provide this extra $5.3 million as at 1 July 2007? The government has obviously got a little bit of time to have a look at that. I suspect it might well have to revise its thinking there. That will have a bottom line effect on the budget, too. But perhaps more about that when we come to debate the budget later on this week and next week.

That certainly will have a bottom line effect on the budget because the government is anticipating an extra $3.5 million of revenue, and that simply might prove to be quite impossible. It has two years. It can, of course, bring in further amendments. It has got another budget to bring in. But I do flag some significant problems there. That $5.3 million might yet turn out to be some wishful thinking by the Treasurer. He might need to come back to us with some further amendments, not only to the Gaming Machine Act, but also perhaps in the next budget as well. I make those points to the Assembly. I also again thank Mrs Dunne for her sterling effort.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.22): I will be supporting this piece of legislation. However, I would like to make a comment regarding the minister’s statement that a number of clubs are presently experiencing some financial pressure. I also note that Clubs ACT has recently appeared in local media foreshadowing a reduction in community grants by clubs due to a drop in gambling revenue.

It is my understanding that recent and unexpected drops in gambling revenue have been attributed to placing limits on note acceptors on gaming machines. It is worth remembering that the original harm minimisation strategy recommended by the gambling and racing commission was the removal of note acceptors altogether and that limiting the notes accepted by machines was a partial measure only. As much as we might value the investment that clubs make in providing services to the community, a drop in gambling revenue resulting from an important consumer protection strategy such as limits on note acceptors should be hailed as a positive social outcome. This is likely to mean that some people are spending less on gambling.

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