Page 4836 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 1 November 2017

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From the Greens point of view, at the last election we put forward a transition plan for clubs and we remain committed to those measures. Our ideas included tax rebates for clubs with improved harm minimisation measures; water subsidies for sporting ovals and greens; reduced liquor-licensing fees for low-risk venues; and business and financial support for diversification proposals. Despite the very personal and targeted nature of the campaign that some of the clubs waged against the Greens at the last election, nonetheless we continue to meet with them and discuss with them what the future is going to look like, because we know it is important for this city. Despite those very direct and personal threats that I and my colleagues received, we are stepping beyond that because we understand the importance of this for our community.

I have always said that we may not agree on every issue but my door is always open to have those conversations. Going back in history, I think it was on the weekend after I was elected in 2008 that I drove to Bateman’s Bay to attend the ClubsACT conference that they were having outside Canberra. I spent two hours in the car the weekend after a fierce election campaign to go and talk to them because we wanted to establish that connection, recognising the role they play in our community.

I am pleased that Mr Parton has raised the issue of the 2015 clubs inquiry, which provided an important framework for considering the future of our community clubs. While Mr Parton has quoted a number of important recommendations from the report, his motion, sadly and disappointingly, did not mention any of the additional comments that I provided as a member of that committee. In my additional comments I made mention of the fundamental dilemma that lies at the heart of this issue: that much of the benefit delivered by clubs is derived from poker machine revenue. Our community recognises the inherent harms arising from problem gambling and has a strong desire to see those harms minimised.

I made a number of alternative recommendations in that report which recognise that harm minimisation must be part of the conversation about the future of our clubs. These recommendations include retaining the $250 ATM withdrawal limit, which was proposed to be removed by the rest of the committee; introducing a $250 EFTPOS withdrawal limit, which I am pleased to see and was very happy the minister moved on earlier this year; retaining two per cent of the community contributions to be held and distributed by an independent community fund; and increasing the problem gambling assistance fund levy to one per cent. It is currently at 0.75 per cent of gaming machine revenue. That is an increase and it is welcome. And, as people know, we recommended introducing a $1 maximum bet limit and a maximum loss rate of $120 per hour on all class C poker machines.

I raise these recommendations from the report because I think it is important that we consider harm minimisation alongside ways that we can support our clubs. These two issues should go hand in hand. I note that the government did respond to this report, as the attorney has outlined today, and agreed in principle with 25 of the 46 recommendations. It is my understanding that, as the minister said in his remarks, all those recommendations have been or are being addressed.

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