NSW Lotteries Agency Agreement

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [4.43 p.m.]: I support this petition and the member for Wyong, as well as some of the comments of the member for Tamworth and the member for Hornsby. I agree with much of what they had to say. The 125,000 signatures on this petition show the depth of feeling for this issue in the community. Newsagents are fantastic small businesses and are a key part of many local small shopping centres in the suburbs. These agencies are run by hardworking families who get up early in the morning and work hard to make an important contribution to our communities. Newsagents should not be driven into liquidation because of a small and unnecessary policy change by the Government which could be reverted at any time. I also did not agree with the previous policy of the Labor Party. I think it was wrong. I agree with the Government members about that, as do many members on this side of the House. But we now have a chance to fix it. The Government could introduce legislation to address this problem.

The Government members talk about the issue, but we need to take a combined approach to it. The Lotto products are the lifeblood of many family businesses. I do not want to see families losing their homes because they cannot compete with the supermarkets in lottery ticket sales. In my electorate of Prospect there is a newsagency owned by Joseph Romandios, whose whole business is based around lottery sales. Some 85 per cent of his family's income comes from lottery sales. If that newsagency closes down, it will have a major impact on every small business in that small shopping centre. I met with Mr Romandios, together with the Hon. Adam Searle, the shadow Minister for Small Business, some months ago and saw firsthand the problems that the newsagency and the family business would have if the supermarket chains had the right to sell Lotto tickets.

Back in January 2015, the then Treasurer identified this problem and, through a memorandum of understanding between the New South Wales Government and the Tatts Group, extended the exclusive right of newsagents to sell lottery tickets to 2018. The Treasurer would not have done such a thing unless there was a clear problem with the original proposal. However, under the current deal signed by the New South Wales Government, there still remains the issue of supermarket chains being allowed to sell lottery tickets through fuel retailers. It is important that newsagents be protected in their exclusivity to sell lottery tickets. Preventing the change in regulations will ensure that newsagents stay in business and avoid the promotion of gambling by huge supermarket chains. I commend the petition.

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