Mr COULTON (Parkes) (9.40 pm)-I rise tonight
to speak about the Productivity Commission inquiry
into gambling and the effects its recommendations may
have if implemented on the community throughout
regional Australia. Gambling addiction is one of the
challenges that we face as a nation. I support any
measures that are taken towards harm minimisation
and helping those who are in the grip of this terrible
dependency. But I speak tonight on behalf of the many
clubs that operate in my electorate. People who live in
larger metropolitan areas might not realise the important
role that these clubs play. They are major sponsors
of a whole range of sport. Many of them have their
own bowling greens and golf courses; they support
football teams; they have tennis courts; some even
support chess teams. Quite often they are the only
venue for entertainment in town. They are responsible
for bringing in acts from outside the area that these
people would not get to see on a regular basis.
I am concerned that there will be a move by some in
this place, and maybe some in the other chamber, to
restrict poker machines and, indeed, make them illegal
and ban them altogether. While I personally have not
played a poker machine since they took the handle off
them and I am no particular fan of them, I believe that
it would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.
There is the amount of community capacity building
that clubs put in and their sponsorship. It is a place for
the community to gather. In my rounds as a local
member, I have been to school presentations in the
auditorium of the local club because it was the only
venue in town that can handle an occasion like that.
Indeed, my wedding some 29 years ago-our anniversary
is on Sunday-was in the auditorium of the local
club. It was the only venue in a small country town that
could accommodate a community gathering of that
I urge people in this place to take a cautious approach.
Clubs have taken a responsible attitude to
managing gambling. Managers that I have spoken to in
the last few months have told me that they closely
monitor their patrons. They have put rules in place for
limitations on the amount of money that can be drawn
from an ATM on a day or the amount of money that
can be drawn on a cheque. Particularly in the smaller
areas, many of the patrons are known to club staff. If
addictive behaviour or excessive behaviour is noticed
amongst their clientele there is a mentoring process.
Club managers have discussed different ways that is
To give you some idea of the amount of the contribution
that clubs put in, one club in my electorate-the
RSL Club in Dubbo-has indicated to me that its
community contribution last year in donations to local
sporting, aged care and community organisations was
in excess of $400,000. That is just one of the clubs in
the city of Dubbo, but one of dozens-probably hundreds-
within my electorate.
It is important that these clubs are nurtured. Indeed,
Clubs NSW has indicated that if some changes are
brought in to restrict the clubs’ revenue, as many as
11,500 jobs could be lost right across New South
Wales. That is a consideration that needs to be addressed.
Finally, I do realise that gambling needs to be
addressed, but I would like to recognise the wonderful
contribution that clubs make to regional Australia.