Tax could kill Seagulls
By CHRISTIAN STANGER
SEAGULLS general manager Wayne Kendrigan says the NSW government's crushing poker machine tax could run his club into the ground.
Last year alone Seagulls coughed up more than $10 million in taxes, almost all of it from pokies.
The poker machine tax, which taxes the turnover of all poker machines in the club, will increase annually under a state government plan until 2010, costing Seagulls $600,000 more each year.
It has already caused the popular club to run at a loss for the last two years since it was introduced.
''It's not a tax on profit, it's a tax on turnover regardless of whether we even make a profit,'' Mr Kendrigan said. ''So every dollar that goes into those machines and gets banked, 32 cents goes to the government in Sydney and is taken out of the Tweed commu-nity.''
Despite an effort to cut costs at Seagulls by $500,000 last year, the club still lost $486,000 after paying more than $10 million in total government taxes which accounted for 88 per cent of the entire profit made at the club.
Seagulls has been forced to cut staff, free entertainment and support for its football team in order to cope with the $21 million the club will have paid in taxes by 2010.
''The tax is hurting the public because the only way we can pay more tax is by increasing the costs of other amenities. That is to the detriment of people who use clubs, probably the people who can least afford to pay these prices,' Mr Kendrigan said.
''It's an indirect tax on all the members of clubs.''
Mr Kendrigan said should the tax continue, he held grave fears for not only his own club but other clubs in the state, 55 per cent of which are either running at a loss or barely breaking even.
''This tax will bring into question the financial viability of all clubs in the state,' he said. "We understand that we have to pay taxes, but bleeding our industry dry is not going to do anyone any good.''
Yesterday, the club's Stardust Room hosted the ClubsNSW AGM at which the Minister for Gaming and Racing, Grant McBride, was a guest speaker, but he offered no real comment on poker machine tax.
Mr McBride reiterated his comments from Monday, claiming he could not talk about the issue until a review of government finances had been completed. He said, however, Premier Morris Iemma hoped to meet with ClubsNSW President, Peter Newell next month to discuss the issue.
''The Premier indicated yesterday that he would meet Mr Newell again to continue talks but that is our position at this point in time,'' Mr McBride said.