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CLUBSACT is calling on its member clubs this week to cancel their membership of the Canberra Business Chamber in response to its opposing view of the expansion of poker machines into the foreign-owned Canberra casino.
Chief Executive Gwyn Rees said he cancelled his membership on Friday after discussion with the Chamber’s Chief Executive Officer Robyn Hendry.
“I cannot in representing the best interests of my members continue to make payments to the Chamber as it is clear the position of the Chamber, is the position of the Government,” Gwyn said.
“Aquis the Hong Kong owners of the casino, is a principal sponsor of the Chamber creating a very clear conflict for the organisation in representing community clubs. It is disappointing this sponsorship is worth more than our 20 years of membership or indeed its member clubs.
“To my knowledge there has been no consultation with the ACT club industry about the casino’s bid, nor any representation in support of clubs to Government.
“Ironically in the Chamber’s own words it was established to promote and protect the interests of ACT business but I cannot help question this in considering the foreign ownership of the casino and ultimately where local residents money will flow.
“Clubs have 500 million dollars of assets under management, employ 2300 Canberrans and provide over 400 hectares of recreational and sporting amenity, most importantly close to people’s homes. They make $11 million in community contributions and support over 1100 organisations annually.
“Never has there been a time when so much of this is at risk, and the Chamber is promoting the casino ahead of its member clubs.
“Community clubs have relied on organisations like the Canberra Business Chamber to represent their interests. They have failed in this regard.
“ClubsACT cannot continue to support any organisation funded by our member clubs, who remains silent or ambivalent about the industry’s future.” Mr Rees concluded.