Poker machines in clubs. Photo: Orlando Chiodo
CLUBS ACT is lobbying the territory government to forgo new fees and charges on watering holes and eateries for the next three years.
It also wants a relaxation of rules surrounding lease variations, particularly when they stop clubs from developing land, to help them diversify their revenue in the face of moves by anti-pokies campaigners. The powerful industry association has written a budget submission to the government saying that territory clubs are at a disadvantage in competing with their NSW counterparts.
The organisation has asked for a three-year moratorium on the introduction of any new fee or any increase to existing charges above inflation for the hospitality sector.
It also wants the immediate introduction of a liquor fee rebate for venues with a good record in terms of alcohol-related incidents. ''This should be introduced along with phased reductions in licence fees across all licence categories,'' a Clubs ACT spokesman said. ''Other states are reducing liquor fees whilst the ACT's increased from $2000 to up to $16,000 and are far higher than other states.''
As for the proposed Scores on Doors scheme, which scores eateries based on their food safety, the association called for a trial scheme on a voluntary basis before any decisions are made.
''Canberra is not a competitive place to do business,'' a spokesman said. ''Whether it be housing costs and availability, through to the amount and type of regulation and legislation that business … are confronted with, Canberra is not business-friendly and needs to do more to attract, encourage and retain business to generate economic growth and employment.''
The government this month signalled major concessions to the territory's gambling industry that could open up the new suburbs of Molonglo and Gungahlin to pokies clubs. Gambling and Racing Minister Joy Burch told a gathering at the Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club that the government was ready to consider the idea of a ''pool'' of surrendered poker machine licences that would be available for independent or start-up clubs.