Page 3593 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 27 October 2015

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It was really good for the committee as a whole, I think, to hear from such a wide range of witnesses throughout the course of the hearing. It did go to every aspect of the club sector in the ACT and of club life as it is lived through the clubs themselves, the broader community, community service organisations as well as the many community and sporting organisations that are supported by the work of clubs.

I personally learnt a lot throughout this inquiry. For me some aspects of the clubs debate were reconfirmed. Some were contested. I believe collectively we all learnt something new. It was really an opportunity to get a better picture of the challenges and opportunities that are facing the club sector and their contributions broadly to the ACT.

As Mr Smyth and Mr Rattenbury noted, I was very pleased to be able to work with the committee to get a key findings page with a broad brush of recommendations put forward. There are a considerable number of them. I think the government will look at each recommendation on its own merits. They may not collectively present a completely coherent approach to a formal government response to the challenges that face the clubs sector but all up they are all worthy of consideration by the government.

The key findings go to the collective agreement by all members of the committee after hearing all the evidence that was put before us. That is also something that I think the clubs sector and the broader community services sector can take away—in a sense, the compact of the committee members on the importance of clubs in our community.

For me, throughout this inquiry it was important that we come to a broad agreement and also do what we could in offering to the government suggestions on how the club sector could grow and be sustained into the future—suggestions that are realistic and achievable in the context of our community and in the context of the current policy settings we are operating in.

It was very clear that clubs provide considerable measurable and considerable unmeasurable positive impact. They are very much a social glue for many members of our community and a place where a great range of interests and activities is pursued. It was very clear throughout the course of the inquiry that clubs know that they need to diversify, know that they need some help to diversify and know that that is their future. Clearly it is a sector that is in transition, and there are a number of options in front of us. One of the challenges for the committee was to put forward a framework of options to consider but not have so many options that it was in a sense death by a thousand cuts.

It was also clearly, as Mr Rattenbury spoke of, a dilemma for some in our community around the issue of problem gambling and the use of poker machines. I certainly agree that we need to work with the club sector to secure their long-term viability and diversify business models away from a reliance on gaming revenue but it is very clear the club sector have known that for a long time.

This was probably the core of the issues that the committee grappled with. We certainly do need to understand better what the impact of problem gaming is on our

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