Page 2647 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 25 September 2007

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It is critical to provide facilities for sport and to encourage participation in these activities, an area in which clubs excel. The importance of these community contributions is best illustrated by a few examples. I have mentioned the Tuggeranong Valley Union Club before, but I want to mention their contribution of a total of $1.7 million to sport and recreation in 2006-07, which included $336,000 for the upkeep and maintenance of Wanniassa Oval.

Included in their total sport contributions, the Tuggeranong rugby club group provided $323,000 for general rugby union and a further $90,000 to the ACT Rugby Union for the promotion and development of junior sport. Separate and significant funding was also provided for sporting scholarships for junior sport. Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, in my electorate again, the Eastlake Football Club began the rejuvenation of the Calwell Oval in March 2006 to provide an oval for the newly formed Calwell Swans Junior AFL club, as there was no other oval available. The club has committed $33,669 in improvements, such as fencing and gates to protect against unauthorised vehicle access and vandalism, and for goal posts and upgraded irrigation. The cost of the rejuvenation was approximately $14,500.

We are all aware that the smoking bans which we needed to have and which commenced in December 2006 have resulted in a revenue decline for most clubs—a bit under 10 per cent, we have been told. I was most pleased and amazed to hear that while revenue for clubs has declined due to the smoking ban impacts, community contribution responsibilities have not declined but have actually increased. I understand from the preliminary figures provided by the Gambling and Racing Commission that the community contribution of $12.8 million for 2006-07 is 11.7 per cent of the net gaming machine revenue. This compares to contributions of $12.5 million for 2005-06. That was a total of 11.0 per cent of the net gaming machine revenue. That is an impressive 2.9 per cent increase when revenue had decreased for seven months of the year.

Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, the club industry continues to provide its share of community contributions by returning to the community a significant share of its gaming machine revenue. As the Chief Minister quite rightly pointed out, the government acknowledges that it has to balance the revenue earned from gaming machines with a responsible approach to the negative aspects that some people may experience in managing their gambling activity—the very same words Mr Smyth mentioned.

While we are only talking about small numbers of problem gamblers, neverthelessthis problem is very important to those that are affected, including family, friends and work colleagues. In recognition of this fact, the ACT government continues to invest in programs and initiatives to address problem gambling issues, including funding of counselling programs and undertaking research into gambling and problem gambling issues.

The government’s mandatory code of practice for ACT gambling licensees incorporates a wide range of responsible gambling and harm minimisation initiatives. The Chief Minister has outlined some of the matters covered by the code that makes the ACT a national leader in the field of harm minimisation for gambling patrons.

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