Gambling Regulation Amendment (Wagering and Betting Tax) Bill 2021: Second Reading
Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (15:37): I too rise to make a contribution to the Gambling Regulation Amendment (Wagering and Betting Tax) Bill 2021, and I am very pleased to do so.
I am very supportive of this proposed amendment, which will make a small change to the act very simply to increase the tax rate from 8 per cent to 10 per cent for wagering and betting operators. It is proposed that this change will take place from 1 July 2021.
I am pleased to follow the member for Bentleigh, who made reference to Ballarat and that 1300 jobs are linked with the racing industry in Ballarat. It makes a contribution of $48 million to my local economy, and I am very, very proud of that.
Likewise, following you, Deputy Speaker, talking about the Greyhound Adoption Program at Tarrengower Prison, I had the pleasure of being at Tarrengower with the Minister for Corrections recently and spending some of the time with the prisoners who were doing the handling of the Greyhound Adoption Program dogs. The joy that that was bringing to those prisoners was great to see. I agree with the member for Thomastown about the importance of animal welfare—it is great.
I would really like to thank the Treasurer, the Treasurer’s office and the department for what has been done to bring this bill to this house and the consultation that has occurred with Racing Victoria, Harness Racing Victoria and Greyhound Racing Victoria that was so welcomed by Peita Duncan, the chair of Greyhound Racing Victoria; the chair of Harness Racing Victoria, Dale Monteith; and the chair of Racing Victoria, Brian Kruger.
Why I am really pleased to speak on this bill is that racing is very important to my community of Ballarat. As the member for Wendouree, I am very proud to have the home of the Ballarat and District Trotting Club in my electorate, in Redan, as well as the Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club adjacent to the trotting club. The Ballarat Turf Club is just out of my electorate in Miners Rest, and the Ballarat Turf Club has a very, very proud history and is also home to Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne and her equally famous strapper brother, Stevie Payne, as well as some great trainers, including Archie Alexander and Matt Cumani, who are having a lot of success at the moment, which is great for Ballarat racing and the Ballarat racing community.
I would really like to take a moment to recognise the Ballarat Turf Club CEO, Belinda Glass, who took the reins of the club after the Ballarat Cup in 2019 and faced the most challenging year in the job dealing with everything that COVID threw up. It was so challenging, after years of having Lachlan McKenzie as the CEO, to take over and then have the year of COVID, so I really want to give a shout-out to Belinda Glass and everyone who works at the Ballarat Turf Club for all they did to keep the racing industry in Ballarat ticking over last year. I am a very proud member of the Ballarat Turf Club as well as the Ballarat & District Trotting Club.
As the local member I get invited to a lot of events, but one of the greatest nights on the calendar in Ballarat is the Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club’s Ballarat Cup. I attended this great event on Friday, 9 April, with my husband, Mike. It is one not to be missed; it is one of the funnest nights in Ballarat, and it is always great to catch up with Greyhound Racing Victoria chair Peita Duncan and talk to her about the plans that the local club has for expansion, improving animal welfare practices and making sure that we have a really, really good and safe industry housed in Ballarat.
I really would like to just take a moment to thank the hardworking team at Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club, including the general manager, Rod Ward, who does such a good job and has such big plans for the venue, and also the Ballarat Racing Club board: the chair, Paul Armstrong; the vice-chair, Craig Fletcher; general committee member Anita Godfrey; and racing advisory committee representative Sheldon Hamilton.
I would like to also thank Greg Davies, APM, the former interim treasurer at the Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club, who has recently been appointed the Greyhound Clubs Victoria independent chair. So congratulations to Greg. We are disappointed that you are leaving the Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club but thrilled that you will be making an ongoing contribution to Greyhound Clubs Victoria.
Also just a quick mention of the Ballarat Greyhound Club racing advisory committee: Debbie Bewley, Peter Desmond, Darrell Leathan, Daniel Cuddy, Trent Blacker and also, as I mentioned, Sheldon Hamilton, who is on the board as well as on the racing advisory committee.
Another fantastic night out in Ballarat is the Ballarat Pacing Cup, and we had the Pacing Cup in January this year, which was really good after a lot of concerns about COVID restrictions and whether the Pacing Cup was going to be able to go ahead. It was able to proceed, and it was a very good night for everyone there, particularly the punters club. Mike and I both had tickets in the punters club, and we left home with a lot more in our pockets than we started with. It is always a good night when the punters club is a success.
On that night I am very pleased that Harness Racing Victoria chair Dale Monteith and CEO Dayle Brown—the two Dales of Harness Racing Victoria—came up for the Pacing Cup in Ballarat. It is always really good to talk to them about the role that Ballarat harness racing plays in the broader Victorian context, and they do give such great support to the Ballarat Harness Racing Club.
We cannot really talk about the club without acknowledging the great work of president David Young and his board, as well as chief executive Paul Rowse and all the staff. Not only do they do great work on racing nights, but also it is a great place to have events. We have a lot of school balls, weddings and other functions at the Flying Horse, their reception centre, so thank you to all the very hardworking staff at the Flying Horse in Redan. On the night of the Pacing Cup it is always lovely to catch up with some life members and club legends, including Joe Ballinger, Dennis Foley and Paul James.
With the proposed amendments that we are making with this bill, there are going to be substantial benefits for the racing industry. In fact these changes are expected to increase the gross annual point-of-consumption tax payments from around $47.6 million to $83.3 million for 2021–22. The increase to funding for the racing industry will help our racing industry increase prize money—and we know that the member for Murray Plains is very excited about that—and also opportunities to invest more in animal welfare programs, and this is most welcome news.
Importantly, the additional funding will encourage ongoing investment in an industry that injects an estimated $4.3 billion annually into Victoria’s economy and sustains more than 33 000 full-time equivalent jobs. I have spoken about how important racing is to the Ballarat community, but more broadly racing is incredibly significant for regional Victoria, with more than 100 clubs, which support over 9700 full-time equivalent jobs and provide an estimated $1.15 billion in economic value annually.
At this time I would also like to acknowledge that gambling can be harmful, and I would encourage anyone struggling with it to reach out, because there is help out there and there are services available. People can call 1800 858 858 for support. I would also encourage people if they are struggling with gambling issues to reach out to a healthcare professional or, if they feel comfortable, to a supportive family member or friend. Help is available.
The money that will be raised from this is going to have great community benefit, particularly for my community. We have benefited previously from the Anzac Day Proceeds Fund over a number of years, with a very welcome $10 000 grant awarded to the Ballarat RSL sub-branch in 2020 for welfare support and last year Ballarat Legacy receiving $18 000 for heating allowances for families. Ballarat, as many people know, is very cold in winter, and grants like this make a substantial difference to our war widows and veterans community.
In closing, I would like to say that I am a big supporter of the racing industry, whether it be the thoroughbreds or whether it be harness racing or whether it be greyhound racing, and I commend this bill to the house.