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Exodus: religious members leave club

The Canberra Southern Cross Club.

The Canberra Southern Cross Club.

The Canberra Southern Cross Club has experienced an exodus of its so-called "religious members" since being forced to charge clergy for the privilege of enjoying its facilities.

It seems that the $5 annual fee was too much of a cross to bear for some priests and nuns who have long been accustomed to free membership of their favourite club.

The Canberra Times reported last August that the Southern Cross Club was outraged over being forced by the ACT government to charge religious members, who had been exempted from paying since the club's establishment in the 1970s.

The club has six branches across the ACT, including the Yacht Club in Yarralumla, and a membership of about 85,000.

Only a small percentage of the membership falls under the category of "religious members", but of those about one-third have withdrawn their patronage since their honorary status has been changed.

Club management did not wish to comment, saying only that it had not undertaken a review of its membership numbers recently.

But other sources have confirmed that quite a few clergy had left the club since the rules changed.

"The ministers didn't like being made to pay so a lot of them just quit the club," one well-placed contact said. "Priests believe they are supposed to collect money, not hand it over."

ACT legislation requires that every member of a club that is licensed for gaming must pay a membership fee unless they have been given a life membership.

The Southern Cross Club had not been adhering to that requirement.

Its membership guidelines stipulated that "any priest, brother, nun, minister or spouse or full-time student of a recognised religion" did not have to pay annual fees.

When the anomaly was brought to the attention of the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission last year, it acted to pull the club into line and pointed out that it was in technical breach of the legislation.

Commission chief executive Greg Jones told The Canberra Times at the time that it was a simple matter of the club having to obey the law.

"Every member of a club in the ACT needs to pay a fee unless they are a life member," he said.

"It is about being consistent with the legislative requirement that has been in place for 15 or 20 years now."

23 comments

  • Petty.

    Commenter
    Nitro Nutjob
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    January 29, 2013, 8:06AM
    • I honor Zeus every 3rd thursday by throwing salt at my feet to commemorate when he and Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights in a giant whale. Looks like I was entitled to some discounts at various clubs over the past 30-odd years. I wonder if I should apply for a retro discount. Hmmm...

      Commenter
      jg
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      January 29, 2013, 8:31AM
      • Sorry but what do you expect? why should we treat 'religious' members differently? what are these priests and nuns doing at the Club anyway i.e are they counselling people or providing advice or are they just there to eat and enjoy themselves? I mean if everyone else has to pay for membership then why not? its a small fee and then they chuck a tantrum over $5? well good riddance..

        Commenter
        Frank
        Date and time
        January 29, 2013, 8:33AM
        • Why can't the clubs let people have free membership? Government meddling where it is not needed or wanted.

          Commenter
          WotTha?????
          Date and time
          January 29, 2013, 8:41AM
          • I agree. every single member should not have to pay...

            If he isn't paying why should I have to??

            how long do you think clubs would last with 1287BC thinking like that?

            Commenter
            Davo
            Date and time
            January 29, 2013, 9:21AM
        • This is absolutely pathetic. How insincere these religious people are. What an awful example they are. I'd kick them out if I knew that would be the way they'd react.

          Commenter
          Chris88
          Date and time
          January 29, 2013, 8:48AM
          • Being one of those who had free membership and has not continued it, the $5 had nothing to do with it.
            I never used the Southern cross club and being a member of my local club made the membership unnecessary.
            Total none event....

            Commenter
            DavidG
            Location
            ACT
            Date and time
            January 29, 2013, 8:51AM
            • What a typical anti-religion gee up by the CT. 90% of those that received these so called free memberships would have never stepped foot in a club regardless. Now cue all the anti-reiligion loud mouth Canberra latte sippers to lay their slipper in. You know the ones who spend most of their time counting their money or telling you how good they are after scoring an EL1+ public circus position, or buying that flash new mcmansion or ego padding fast car. These anti religion types are more vocal and more annoying than any bible basher I have seen over the 68 years I have been around.
              I wonder what charity they have done in their self absorbed life, or goodwill they have shown to their fellow men and women. Most seem too busy bagging those that do good.
              I say thank heavens there are still some decent religious people who contribute so much to the poor and disadvantaged in both Australia and overseas, as I doubt anyone else would take up the charity if they weren't around. I couldn't care less if they received a free membership at some club, even if it was never used.

              Commenter
              pete
              Date and time
              January 29, 2013, 9:29AM
              • Completely agree. Plainly those that qualified once for free membership had an "opt out" system thereafter, which no-one ever exercised because it was completely unnecessary. But once a membership payment is required (even if it's only $5/year), the club is forced to invite members to "opt in", and large swathes of them didn't bother because the Southern Cross club is now (or perhaps has always been) irrelevant to them). This is a total non-story.

                Commenter
                Carlton Draft
                Location
                Canberra
                Date and time
                January 29, 2013, 9:44AM
              • I don't believe that all outspoken Atheists are EL1, coffee sipping sports car owners.

                Most of the criticism is directed at the fact that people, or organisations, shouldn't be given a free ride or free authority purely for the reason that they hold supernatural beliefs. Religious organisations do conduct a lot of charity which is a good thing, there are however secular charity organisations around too, and I would like to point out that charity is not dependant on religion to exist. If you take the God concept out of the salvation army, the sun still comes up tomorrow, and the organisation will still operate given donations, and people to pass the donations on to.

                Commenter
                ACT
                Date and time
                January 29, 2013, 1:12PM

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