Canberrans want a chance to have their say on how ACT club’s community contributions are distributed and reassurance local groups won’t be worse off under a plan to pour this money into an ACT Government administered fund.

Over 1,200 Canberrans signed a petition calling on the ACT Government to undertake a community consultation that sought the views of all stakeholders, including clubs, junior sporting teams, charities and community groups.” ClubsACT Chief Executive Gwyn Rees said.

“Despite knowing this petition had been submitted, the Government ignored Canberrans forcing through changes to the contributions scheme late last year, which included some of these funds being allocated by the Government.

“Clubs made community contributions of nearly $12 million last year and supported over 1,000 community organisations, including junior sports and Canberra charities. To date, this successful model has been based on clubs working with the community, including their members, to identify recipients.

“We believe this is one of the largest signed petitions ever presented to the Legislative Assembly, but the Attorney-General appears to have dismissed the community’s request despite other petitions triggering an inquiry, Mr Rees said.

The petition also sought a thorough economic analysis of the plan to divert funds and commission a report into the social value of ACT club’s and the community groups they currently support.

“All people are asking for is for any changes to be evidence based and to know that our community groups won’t be harmed,” Mr Rees explained. “Instead, the Government has based its decision in large part on a report by an anti-gambling activist whose short-comings as a gambling expert were highlighted in a recent federal court case.

“If the Government is confident this plan will hold up to scrutiny they should be happy to support a public inquiry of its proposed reforms and their implications.

“Once this change is implemented, it is too late. The community has a right to be heard and has simply asked the Government to take a minute and make sure this is the right thing for everyone.”