Con­cerns for fu­ture of clubs

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

Nu­murkah Golf and Bowls Club is one of 163 clubs sup­port­ing a Com­mu­nity Clubs Vic­to­ria pro­gram to ad­vise mem­bers of party poli­cies in next month’s Vic­to­rian elec­tion.

As a venue which op­er­ates elec­tronic gam­ing machines, the club, in con­junc­tion with CCV, is will pro­vide ad­vice to mem­bers about the poli­cies par­ties con­test­ing the elec­tion.

CCV said the ini­tia­tive was be­cause the in­dus­try was un­der in­creas­ing pressure and, if fur­ther changes were in­tro­duced to sti­fle gam­ing, the fu­ture of clubs with gam­ing was ques­tion­able.

It was the first time in its 102-year his­tory CCV has mo­bilised its mem­ber­ship base.

CCV pres­i­dent Leon Wie­gard said com­mu­nity clubs were fed up with var­i­ous in­ter­est groups con­tin­u­ally mis­rep­re­sent­ing facts and not recog­nis­ing the con­tri­bu­tion clubs make to the com­mu­nity.

‘‘This ef­fort to mo­bilise for the 2018 elec­tion will in­volve 163 clubs rep­re­sent­ing more than 600 000 adult mem­bers,’’ he said.

‘‘These venues em­ploy about 20 000 staff, about 30 per cent of whom are em­ployed in re­gional Vic­to­ria.

‘‘Com­mu­nity clubs in Vic­to­ria are im­mensely proud of our role as vi­tal hubs within lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘These clubs are not-for­profit en­ter­prises and op­er­ate gam­ing machines to sup­port their rea­son for be­ing — be it sport­ing, char­i­ta­ble, so­cial or com­mu­nity-based.

‘‘Gam­ing is al­ways sec­ondary to what a com­mu­nity club of­fers its mem­bers and the wider com­mu­nity in which it op­er­ates.

‘‘EGMs are le­gal and li­censed to venues by the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment. Around 35 per cent of our rev­enue is re­turned to state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments in the form of taxes and rates, which is then di­rected to schools, hos­pi­tals and other vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture.

‘‘We then cover our wages and op­er­at­ing ex­penses, in­clud­ing lo­cal sup­pli­ers who serve our clubs. Any­thing that is left is re­turned to the com­mu­nity.

‘‘The broader clubs’ move­ment makes an an­nual so­cial con­tri­bu­tion of more than $1 bil­lion a year in Vic­to­ria and con­sisted of com­mu­nity do­na­tions, sub­sidised ac­cess to fa­cil­i­ties and vol­un­teer­ing.’’

The strat­egy re­lies on clubs com­mu­ni­cat­ing with mem­bers, ask­ing them to ex­er­cise a pru­dent vote at the next elec­tion.

Clubs will tell mem­bers which party or can­di­date to sup­port, but sim­ply sup­ply­ing in­for­ma­tion to con­sider.

The cam­paign will op­er­ate un­der the Clubs are the Com­mu­nity ban­ner and in­for­ma­tion is avail­able elec­tron­i­cally and printed.

Mr Wie­gard thought the cam­paign would im­pact some Lower House seats, but said it was in the Up­per House where the club’s vote could im­pact the bal­ance of power.

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