REGISTERED CLUBS POKER MACHINE TAX
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I ask the Treasurer, Minister for State Development, and Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he read the attack by the Australian Hotels Association [AHA] against registered clubs in the association’s press release dated 17 November. Has the AHA claimed that the registered clubs movement received from the Government, and I quote from the press release, "extreme benefits through the current taxation regime and State tax subsidies"? What is the Treasurer’s response to such an attack on our clubs, which perform a very important community service with the sporting facilities, gymnasiums and many other services they provide for members and their families?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I had not read the AHA press release until the Hon. Franca Arena kindly gave me a copy of it shortly before question time. I had a little difficulty in understanding the logic of the press release until I realised that the AHA has calculated what it claims to be a State tax subsidy and then subtracted from that the community contributions of each of those clubs. From that figure, the AHA has drawn the conclusion that the State is making a net contribution to clubs, rather than the other way around. It is true that the poker machine taxation rate for clubs in this State is lower than it is for hotels, and that it is the lowest
poker machine tax rate for clubs in all Australian mainland States.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: That’s not true.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Yes, it is absolutely and entirely true. It was not only absolutely and entirely true when the rate was lifted in the budget prior to the most recent budget, but now that the rate has been lowered even further it is absolutely and entirely true about 10 times over. It cannot be any better than absolutely and entirely true - the rate is the lowest poker machine tax rate applying in any Australian State. The AHA does not like that.
The differential in the rates between clubs and pubs is due to the fact that clubs are mutual organisations. The profits made by clubs from poker machines are not dispersed to shareholders; they remain the property of the club and its members. Pubs are profit-making ventures. That is not to say that pubs do not also make a contribution to the community - in fact, they make a significant contribution, particularly in country towns, as do small clubs. The hotel movement will have to get used to the fact that there will always be a differential in the tax rate between hotels and clubs.