Page 4835 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

were ethnic based. A number of them were sporting based. Those clubs have become very different operations over the last few decades. They have become large-scale poker machine venues. That is quite a different thing. To come here and simply talk generically about clubs ignores the reality of what is out there, and it is why we need to be having a real discussion about what these clubs are, what role they play in our community and what their future is.

I certainly accept the point Mr Parton makes in the first part of his motion: that the contribution of clubs can be measured in a number of ways, including employment, training, supporting local organisations, social connection—I do not think that one was in there but I will add it—and providing facilities, including sporting grounds. However, I question why Mr Parton felt the need to use inflated figures from the clubs industry rather than quoting from the figures from the independent Gambling and Racing Commission, which were, after all, self-reported by the clubs in the territory. I think it shows that Mr Parton and those in the industry, as we have seen a lot in the last 12 months, are not interested in having a genuine debate based on the facts. I do not think this helps the cause of the clubs.

The future of our clubs is a serious issue and it will need to be considered regardless of whether the government actively pursues a harm minimisation agenda. It has been reflected here today. Mr Parton made reference to it in his comments. The demographics are changing. What people want when they go out is changing. We see that all the time in the way restaurants come up, do well for a while and then close in this city. It is a tough business in this town, hospitality, and you can see it from the number of restaurants that come and go in this place. I do not know whether that is because Canberra restaurant goers or people who go out are fickle or whether they are just captured by the new thing. But people’s preferences do change, and that is the industry the clubs are operating in. So there is a real discussion there about what their offering is to the community. Is it up to date? How can they remain relevant to people’s changing consumption patterns of entertainment and the like?

It has been acknowledged today that the number of people playing poker machines continues to decrease. The Greens are committed to working with clubs to diversify and move away from what is an unsustainable reliance on poker machines and pokie revenue.

I think the essence of Mr Parton’s motion is: “We just want to stand still.” That is not the reality. That is the reality for nobody in this industry. It is not the reality for the consumers who go to these clubs. What we actually need to do is think about what the future is going to look like. To be fair, I know that the clubs industry is thinking about that, from the conversations I am having with them. They know that we cannot just stand still. So the only people who seem to be out of touch in this discussion are those who are saying, “Let’s just stand still.”

We accept that the transition away from a reliance on poker machine revenue will be challenging for some clubs. Again, I have had that conversation. I know it is not easy, which is why the reduction in the number of machines will be staged over several years and why the government is seeking to work with clubs to help identify alternative income streams.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video