Thursday, 26 September 2013 11:22

Don’t fund big clubs at expense of our need communities - WSROC

Media Release 27 January 2012

Increased revenue raised through the poker machine tax must be fairly distributed and not favour rich and powerful clubs at the expense of needy communities, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils Ltd (WSROC) said today.

 

WSROC President, Clr Alison McLaren, said she was concerned that the Government was only consulting ClubsNSW in deciding how to manage almost $10 million a year in community funds obtained through a new category of poker machine tax rebate, which could see the money going straight to big and powerful clubs at the expense of smaller community groups.

“We need greater transparency and consultation in the distribution of increased funds raised through the poker machine tax,” Clr McLaren said.

“Under the current system, decisions regarding this money will be made secretly between the Government and ClubsNSW which does not give us confidence that the money will be fairly distributed in a fully transparent process.

Clr McLaren said the new Category 3 funds raised through an increase in poker machine tax rebates should be dispersed according to the needs of the communities in which they are raised, and not confined to those clubs who already earn in excess of $1 million in poker machine revenue.

“We need to ensure that these funds go back to the communities who need them and are not used just to further line the pockets of the big and powerful clubs,” she said.

“Western Sydney already contributes a disproportionately high percentage to the State Government as a result of poker machine gambling,” she said. “Our 14 LGAs currently account for 38 per cent of all revenue.

“And unfortunately much of this money comes from lower socio-economic communities who are already disadvantaged.

“Eight (8) of the fourteen LGA’s in Western Sydney have SEIFA rankings of less than 1000, which indicates areas of disadvantage, and include some of the most disadvantaged areas in the state,” Clr McLaren said. “These disadvantaged Western Sydney LGA’s will be providing 32.6% of the state-wide funding pool.

“Fairfield local government area alone, which is the most disadvantaged area in Sydney will be contributing over 10% of the Fund, while four of the most disadvantaged areas of Sydney (Fairfield, Canterbury, Bankstown and Blacktown) will contribute nearly one quarter of the funds to the State wide pool.

“Western Sydney already suffers from a shortage of infrastructure, services and facilities.

“In deciding how these Category 3 funds are spent the NSW Government should specify that they must be returned to the LGAs in which they were generated,” Clr McLaren said.

“It is important that the most disadvantaged areas retain as much revenue from gambling as possible in order to redress the negative impacts of gambling and to provide facilities and services that are missing in these areas.

“This would ensure that these funds are used to improve the lives of residents in these disadvantaged communities, and provide urgently needed facilities and promote economic activity within areas where rates of gambling are the highest. Our local clubs would also benefit from this additional community support.”

Under new legislation passed at the end of last year, money raised through the poker machine tax will now go into a special fund, call ClubGrants rather than into NSW Consolidated revenue. That fund is expected to contribute almost $46 million to community and sporting clubs next year, through Category 1 and 2 Grants.

A new fund of Category 3 grants has now been introduced, based on an extra 0.4 per cent rebate being awarded to clubs whose poker machine revenue tops $1 million a year. This fund is expected to raise an extra $9.9 million.

Under the new legislation, the Category 3 funds are administered by the Director General of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services, according to guidelines which were prepared in consultation with Clubs NSW.

“The guidelines for this fund are not available and we are concerned that, while they have been developed in consultation with Clubs NSW, there does not appear to be any community consultation process,” Clr McLaren said.

“Most communities who will contribute funds to the state-wide funding pool are disadvantaged and need facilities locally,” she said. “They deserve to have a say in how these funds are spent.

“However, currently we have not been given any information on ClubGRANTS, in particular Category 3 State-wide fund.

“We don’t know what types of projects are eligible for funding, or what the criteria for funding will be. We don’t know what the application process will be, who will be administering and processing the applications or, most importantly, who will be making the decision or recommendations for projects.

“The guidelines governing Category 1 and 2 funds are settled in consultation with Clubs NSW and NCOSS (Council of Social Service of NSW) but Category 3 guidelines are to be settled only with Clubs NSW.

“We are concerned there has been no consultation process announced to enable the broader community or other stakeholders to provide comment on these guidelines, or on the purpose of the funds in general.”

Clr McLaren said she was also concerned that changes to the existing legislation now allowed Category 2 funds to be spent on professional sporting clubs, such as the NRL and on golf courses which had previously been excluded.

“The NRL does not need any additional taxpayer money, especially when it comes at the expense of small community groups and local sporting clubs,” she said.

 

 


Media Inquiries Karin Bishop, Deputy CEO on 0417 239 539

 

Last modified on Thursday, 26 September 2013 13:33

Filter By