Thursday, 9 March 2023
Brisbane Electorate: Stafford Bowls Club
Stephen Bates (Brisbane, Australian Greens) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
In 2019, a 20-year lease was issued to Crushers Leagues Club for the Stafford Bowls Club site. By 2022, they were no longer able to proceed or fulfil the conditions of the lease, and they failed to maintain the site, resulting in it becoming unkempt and increasingly dilapidated. The LNP-dominated Brisbane City Council should have taken the site back to tender, but, instead, in October 2022, they voted to transfer the lease to Brisbane Racing Club, in a closed-door deal without tender or community consultation.
Brisbane Racing Club plans to install 76 poker machines on this publicly owned land. Brisbane City Council does not need any more pokies. In 2021-22, Queensland actually surpassed Victoria as the second-biggest pokies state in the country, with more than $2.7 billion in losses, with the residents of the Brisbane City Council area alone losing $591 million. Local residents, namely the Stafford Community Hub not Race Club group, have done an incredible job opposing this development and demanding better for their community. In fact, their petition to Brisbane City Council garnered more than 900 signatures from locals before it closed.
In February of this year, my office wrote to the Brisbane City Council and the Queensland government amplifying the concerns of these residents and calling out our government's gambling problem, including advocating for the Queensland Attorney-General and the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation to deny Brisbane Racing Club a gambling licence for the site. But, alarmingly, I'm hearing reports from the community that the Queensland government's commissioner for liquor and gambling might actually waive the standard requirements for a gaming licence application to include a community impact statement in its submission and to advertise to seek community consent.
Over the last few years, the LNP has accepted thousands of dollars in political donations from Brisbane Racing Club, resulting in three sitting LNP councillors abstaining from the vote last October to transfer the lease to the club, due to that perceived conflict of interest. In fact, both Labor and the LNP have accepted more than $9 million in donations from the gambling industry over the last two decades, with political donations from the gambling industry amounting to $2.165 million in the last year alone, representing a 40 per cent increase on the previous year. This is legalised corruption. Is it any wonder these decisions are made behind closed doors?
It's understandable that the Stafford community feel absolutely betrayed by the LNP council and the Labor state government regarding the site. The Greens don't accept corporate donations, including from the gambling industry. I'll continue to support the local residents who are fighting for a better outcome for the Stafford community, as well as the Greens campaign to clean up our democracy.