Page 1206 - Week 04 - Thursday, 26 March 2015

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with absolute honesty to say there is no conflict of interest for me. I can apply legislation and regulation for the benefit of all clubs. As Mr Smyth said, all of our community clubs bring value to this community. I hope that this inquiry does not set one club apart, because they all have an important role to play. Their membership is strong. The Labor Club is owned by its members, not by me. It has an independent board.

Again, I will watch with interest. This work is too important for it to be sidelined by that political agenda. I have faith in achieving a good result, after a fair and reasonable discussion not only with ClubsACT but also, I am sure, with the community sector. Relationships Australia and Care Financial have the contract to support harm minimisation; they should be brought in and asked to put forward their views as well. I commend my amendment to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.51): I think it is valuable that we look at the future of the clubs industry in the ACT. Mr Smyth certainly outlined his views on the value of clubs to the community. There is no doubt that clubs have historically played a very significant role in our community, whether it is some of the ethnic-based clubs—and Mr Smyth spoke of that—or clubs that have been established for a range of purposes but essentially through groups of people coming together in order to establish a place to perhaps share their passion for a particular culture or sport, and a place to provide resources on an ongoing basis for that interest.

There are real questions about what the clubs industry will look like in the future. It is well known in this place that the clubs have faced a range of challenges. Some of the clubs have closed; some of the clubs have gone from strength to strength and are now quite large operations. It is an interesting question: what is the ultimate purpose of clubs? How large should they aim to be? What is the right operating model there? Those are questions to which I do not profess to know the answer, but I think an Assembly inquiry looking at a range of those questions would be very valuable.

Of course, the primary focus on clubs has been on issues around poker machines and harm to problem gamblers. I certainly welcome that element of Mr Smyth’s motion. I think it is valuable that we look much more broadly at the future of the clubs industry in the ACT and what that should look like. I think this would be a welcome discussion and I certainly welcome the opportunity to participate in this committee. Obviously I have an interest in a range of these issues and I have flagged that interest with my colleagues. I appreciate the opportunity to join the committee for the purposes of this inquiry.

With respect to the technical details of the committee, we could have had a select committee. There were some suggestions that it go to PAC. I do not have a particularly strong view. Minister Burch has suggested it should be referred to PAC. I think that is an agreeable approach. In that case, of course, Mr Smyth will chair the inquiry. Given his comments today, there is no doubt that Mr Smyth has a significant interest in the issue and I think he will be a suitable chair for that inquiry. I think that referral to the public accounts committee is a perfectly appropriate way to go forward. It is also appropriate given that these issues sit within PAC’s stated remit.

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