Page 2106 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 June 2015
$36 million; they are quite happy to take their cut. They do not put a great deal back into the research—numbers from 2010, numbers from 2004. That is not the way to inform a modern debate.
Then we continue with certainty. The bill provides that phase 1 may last up to three years. It may not. We asked the minister questions in the inquiry and she said, “Well, if I don’t get what I want I’ll just change it.” How can you plan the future of your club—start to diversify, get loans so you might restructure, rebuild, build different facilities—when the minister might change the scheme and take machines off the floor of your club? That is not certainty. There is no certainty in this for the clubs, and the clubs need to be aware of that.
It will no doubt be peddled that the Libs did not support the reform. Why would we support badly legislated, badly drafted poor reform with poor intent? If you read this and go to the maximum, you would say, “Okay, phase 1 might last three years,” and then phase 2 starts—mandatory take back of the machines. Phase 1 might only last six months, because under the minister’s amendment that is all the notice she has to give. Phase 1 may only last six months, and the banks will be asking the clubs, “How certain are you of your licences?” The banks will be asking, “What are your projections? Are they based on retaining all your machines for a full three years or are they based on maintaining all your machines for only six months? What number of machines do you lose in the government’s pro rata move to get to the 15 per 1,000 total?” They are the questions any business-minded manager will ask, but not the minister. All the minister says is, “I’ll get what I want. I’ve got no data to back what I want. I offer none of the organisations any certainty, but I will have what I want.” That is not fair.
The clubs have asked for certainty, and we should give it. In my amendments, which we will get to in the detail stage, I have said phase 1 should be a defined period, and if you wish to end phase 1 you should give at least a year’s notice. Ms Burch has immediately watered that down to six months, which is unacceptable. It is not even a financial year for a club or an organisation to do what they want to do. In that regard, this is very poor legislation and very poor process. We need to have a rethink, and I urge Mr Rattenbury not to support the government in this today.
We are not serving our community well, and in this case we are not serving the club industry, their members and their patrons, by passing inferior, uncertain legislation. The start date of the tax changes is 1 July. That could and should have been a budget-related bill, a separate bill. I do not think anybody in this place would have trouble with that. But we are being asked to pass a new trading system, the start date of which is unknown, which has eight notifiable and disallowable instruments attached to it that we have not seen and the clubs have not seen in a system that can be changed simply at the whim of the minister. This is a poor outcome for the club sector.
I am not sure where the minister has been; I am not sure who she listens to; I am not sure where she is getting her advice. The clubs certainly want a trading scheme, but they want certainty in that scheme. If certainty in the ACT is now six months, which it appears to be, that is very uncertain. The funding institutions will look at this, I suspect, with a very dim view, because projections can go out the window at the whim of a minister with six months notice. That is not what the clubs deserve.