By Andrew Starke
A report released yesterday (Feb 11) by the Productivity Commission is more concerned with the financial well-being of hotels and casinos than in clubs’ continuing ability to support local communities.
This is the views of ClubsAustralia CEO, David Costello, who said it is the not for profit status of clubs that underpins the enormous social work they do.
In a report about the not for profit sector, the Productivity Commission expresses concern that clubs breach ‘competitive neutrality’ issues because some clubs do not pay income tax on part of their revenue in recognition of their support for local sport.
This concession is not provided to privately owned entertainment venues such as hotels, motels, gyms and casinos.
“For many years governments have encouraged clubs to diversify their business to be less reliant on gambling,” said Costello.
“Yet the Productivity Commission in its report paints a picture of clubs straying too far from their core services of food, beverage and gambling. Clubs make no apologies for building the best gyms in Australia, for building hotels and even supermarkets in regions where private companies have shown no interest.
“Clubs are not for profit organizations,” he continued “They employ almost 100,000 people directly across the country, donate hundreds of millions of dollars annually to charities and sporting groups, as well as pay billions of dollars in tax.
“The Productivity Commission in its report compares a bowling club in a country town to a hotel in the city. The two are chalk and cheese.”
It is further believed that the commission has not softened its stance on restricting poker machines, with a separate report on this issue expected by the end of February.
Clubs pay less tax than pubs on income from poker machines.