MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (11.21):  The Public Accounts Committee heard a wide range of evidence during this inquiry and addressed issues including revenue and profitability, legislation and regulations, taxation and charges, land development and sales, problem gambling, diversification emerges, new business models, poker machines and gambling technologies, water and resource management, and I will make a couple of comments about a few of those points in my following remarks.  We heard that there are 49 licensed clubs in the ACT and that in recent years the number of clubs in the ACT has been in decline.  The committee heard and, certainly agrees on the need to assist vulnerable problem gamblers and we noted the suite of measures that are currently implemented by the clubs and through the ACT government to address problem gambling.  Also the research that has been undertaken will continue to be undertaken and there are quite a number of recommendations in the committee report relating to the need for ongoing research.

It is important to address the social, emotional and financial impact of problem gambling.  It affects families and the wider community, not just the individual themselves.  And I know in some of my previous work I have also heard about the potential impact of financial stress and, indeed, homelessness arising from problem gambling.  The committee also heard about the growing use and potential misuse of online gambling, but it is important to note the balancing side of that the ongoing and important contribution that community clubs make to the ACT community and that problem gamblers are only a very small part of those people who visit those clubs. 

Many sporting groups and community organisations that I talk to every day talk about the valuable support they receive from community clubs and, indeed, many of them say it would be very difficult for them to continue to operate without that support from clubs.  And these groups range from the ACT Deafness Resource Centre, Better Hearing Australia, the Tuggeranong Hawks Football Club, Tuggeranong Netball Association, Tuggeranong Valley Junior Rugby Union Club, the Billiards and Snooker Association, the Tuggeranong Dog Training Club, Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, Karinya House, Technical Aid to the Disabled ACT, Marymead, the ACT Eden-Monaro Cancer Support Group, ACT Rescue and Foster, Arthritis ACT, Volunteering ACT, Bosom Buddies ACT, Royal Lifesaving Association and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance just to name a few because there was quite an extensive list of organisations that do receive support from community clubs.

Much of the evidence we received from the clubs was about the need for certainty and the ongoing regulatory environment and enabling ways to secure the long term viability of the club sector.  And to that end the committee have made 45 recommendations and they are wide ranging and they do recognise the additional ways that we can provide certainty for clubs while addressing community concerns about problem gambling because of the range and depth of those recommendations.  In terms of the contribution of clubs, in 2007 an Allen Consulting Group study found that clubs in the ACT employed 2,177 people.  Increasingly they included chefs.  79 per cent of all goods and services purchased by clubs were sourced from services within the ACT.  And in 2013-14 clubs made community contributions of $12.7 million which was 13.27 per cent of net gaming machine revenue and gaming machines in the ACT provided $170 million in gross gaming revenue in 2013-14.

We also heard that gambling prevalence in general and electronic gaming machine revenue in particular is decreasing in the ACT.  My colleagues on the committee have already made a number of comments about the nature of the committee’s inquiry and Mr Smyth in particular gave a good overview in his opening comments.  So I will just finish up by thanking the members of the committee who include Mr Smyth as the Chair, Ms Porter, Ms Fitzharris and Mr Rattenbury.  Also the secretariat of Dr Andrea Cullen, Mr Andrew Snedden, Mr Greg Hall and Ms Lydia Chung.  Also I would like to thank all those people and organisations that made submissions and those who appeared before the committee.  The submissions ranged from opposition to gambling generally, perhaps clubs as well right through to those who are very much in support of clubs and it was good for the committee to get that wide ranging view.  I would like to reiterate my belief that the clubs in the ACT are a very valuable part of our community and their contribution to many of the small, in particular, small groups and organisations in our community is invaluable.  Thank you.

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