Barr backs ACT Raiders funding
Sports Minster Andrew Barr has stood by the ACT government's financial support of the Canberra Raiders, despite revelations of the financial muscle behind the NRL club.
The territory government provides the rugby league strugglers with $1.4 million in appearance fees each year and $500,000 in payroll tax concessions.
The Canberra Times revealed yesterday that the club's football operation slumped to a $220,000 loss last year on revenue of almost $12 million but that its parent group had grown into a cross- border gambling giant with seven licensed clubs producing annual income of nearly $50 million.
Mr Barr said in a statement yesterday the club was a valuable asset to the ACT and investment in the Raiders was worthwhile.
The minister said the benefits of the agreement, which contains a clause that the club play home games at Canberra stadium, provided revenue streams to help keep the stadium operational. According to Mr Barr, the agreement also stipulates the Raiders undertake community activities such as school visits, coaching clinics and charity promotion.
In the past six months, Mr Barr said, the Raiders have done 428 community visits, and last year did 70 junior league visits.
Yesterday's story also revealed that the club's parent group, The Canberra Raiders District Rugby League Club Ltd, had branched out into commercial property, establishing a $33 million real estate trust that was buying interstate property investments including the Bunnings Warehouse in the Sydney suburb of Seven Hills.
Mr Barr's statement went on to defend the community benefits of the deal with the NRL club.
''They employ 140 full-time equivalent jobs and about 80 part-time jobs in Canberra,'' it said.
''The Raiders have four senior teams, NRL, under 20s, under 18s and under 16s, which play in national competitions. The SG Ball - under 18s - side play in the grand final this weekend in Sydney.
''They are one of only three NRL clubs that also fund, organise and administer a junior competition that consists of 3900 registered players from under 6s to first grade, 15 junior clubs and 19 senior clubs.''
Mr Barr's office produced figures from accountant PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), compiled in 2009, to argue that the territory received a net economic benefit from its financial support of the Canberra Raiders.
According to the report, the investment generated ''a net economic gain in value-added terms of $12.7 million - activity which would have not have occurred in the absence of the Raiders. Additional value-added generated by the Raiders for the ACT was a multiple of the expenditure by the ACT economy on the Raiders of $1.52 for every $1 of expenditure''.
''Raiders activities generated significant employment both directly, including 126 full-time staff members in the ACT, and indirectly.
''Across the ACT, Raiders activities generated 300 full-time equivalent jobs which would not otherwise have existed.''