By Andrew Starke
The Greens have questioned the Keneally government’s decision to provide some pubs with tax breaks on gaming machine profits, implying that the cuts would encourage the hotel industry to make donations to the Labor Party.
Commenting on the changes to gambling taxes in the NSW budget, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon, said that the cuts to the tax on poker machine profits was a set back for managing problem gambling.
“There is no justification for the Keneally government providing generous tax breaks to 485 hotels that will no longer have to pay tax on their gambling profits,” Rhiannon said.
“The hotel industry have had a massive win in this year's budget and it is at the expense of the public purse.
"Premier Kristina Keneally should publicly explain why she and Treasurer Eric Roozendaal made this change that reduces state income while providing a great boost to many wealthy hotel owners.”
Rhiannon disputed the notion that the tax break could be seen as a rescue package for small country pubs.
“It looks more like a rescue package for NSW Labor desperate to attract more political donations in the lead up to the state election,” she said. "This looks like an unsavoury deal stitched up by Labor insiders.
“The Australian Hotels Association brokered the deal, described by the AHA's President as benefiting 65 percent of NSW hotels.”
Rhiannon claimed that John Whelan, a former chief of staff to the former gaming minister Grant McBride, who now works for the AHA, played a key role in winning the tax break.
“Over the past decade the gaming, hotel and club industry has donated more than $7 million to Labor and more than $4 million to the Coalition parties,” Rhiannon added.
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