Mrs LESLIE WILLIAMS
(Port Macquarie) [1.30 p.m.]: I inform the House of the dire consequence that will prevail if the Federal Government's mandatory precommitment scheme is approved. If legislation for the scheme is passed with the support of the member for Lyne, Robert Oakeshott, quite simply clubs in the Port Macquarie electorate will be forced to close their doors. Introduction of the mandatory precommitment scheme will cost clubs dearly. There is no proof that such a scheme will work. When very few members of our community are problem gamblers it is difficult to believe what is being proposed, which will so desperately harm the club industry not only in the Port Macquarie electorate but also in areas across New South Wales.
In the past 10 years in New South Wales the incidence of problem gambling has decreased from 2 per cent to 0.4 per cent because of current harm minimisation measures. In the Port Macquarie area that equates to only approximately 200 people. Problem gamblers will simply set high limits on their precommitment cards. Evidence from trials in Nova Scotia shows that gamblers set higher than normal limits then feel compelled to spend up to that limit, thereby increasing the damage. Problem gamblers also may borrow cards or attempt to register multiple precommitment cards under the proposed scheme. The scheme just does not make sense.
Clubs play a significant role in both the social and economic life of my electorate and in the State. They are not-for-profit mutual organisations that are a social hub and community service centre for many people in regional areas. In the Port Macquarie electorate there are 12 clubs that employ 518 people. Those 518 hardworking local people pay taxes of $6.3 million. Through their salaries they inject $21 million into the local economy. Imagine the flow-on that the loss of that income will have on local businesses and employment. It will be a disaster for local jobs.
With Robert Oakeshott's support for the scheme, the 59,178 local members of clubs will not be able to get a cheap Sunday roast dinner for $6.60 as they can at the Laurieton United Services Club, or rissoles and vegetables for $7.90 at Port Panthers; nor will they be able to support the 32 local sporting facilities or contribute $9.1 million to local community organisations. Each year our local clubs employ 518 people. Each year the Harrington Bowling Club, the Lansdowne Bowling Club, the Laurieton United Services Club, the Westport Bowling Club and the Panthers Port Macquarie club attracted 1.97 million visits.
If the clubs are forced to close their doors because they cannot afford to spend the $12.7 million on installing the technology required for the mandatory precommitment scheme what impact will it have on Australia's entertainment industry? Where will singers and musicians hone their craft? Where will people go for a good night out? Most local clubs offer free live entertainment and others provide an opportunity to see first-class entertainers such as the McClymonts, Diesel, the Radiators and Glenn Shorrock, who are just a few of the people who have recently played at clubs in my electorate.
Some very significant events occur in local clubs, and the most significant of them occur on Anzac Day. Each year after the dawn service, which this year I attended in Port Macquarie, or the mid-morning service, which I attended in Kendall, like many thousands of people throughout my electorate I head down to the local club for a drink and a meal and to reminisce and swap stories of past war efforts. Under the proposed scheme that will be a thing of the past. RSL clubs as we know them will cease to exist and veterans will lose their well-earned support and Anzac Day activities.
It is difficult to keep the doors open and operating profitably with a 40 per cent reduction in net gaming profits. No-one is denying that more needs to be done to help problem gamblers, but introducing a mandatory precommitment scheme, which will force clubs to shut up shop, kick employees out of a job and prevent them from supporting sporting and community organisations simply is not the way to do it. The Liberals-Nationals will continue to fight against the Federal Government's plans that put jobs as well as community organisations that are supported by clubs at risk. I will fight to defend clubs in the Port Macquarie electorate, the services they provide to our communities, the organisations they support and, most importantly, the jobs they create.