Thursday, June 04, 2009

Privatisation battle shifts to NSW Lotteries, by Alexandra Smith - The Sydney Morning Herald - 5th June 2009

Another privatisation battle is looming for the Premier, Nathan Rees. At least 15 MPs, including the former racing and gaming minister Grant McBride, are opposed to the sale of NSW Lotteries.

Several MPs on the right, including Richard Amery, Tony Stewart and Paul Gibson, fear small businesses could suffer if NSW Lotteries products were no longer sold in newsagents.

Mr McBride, who was gaming minister for four years, warned caucus this week the sale of products such as scratchies in casinos or pubs could turn "soft gambling" into a more serious problem.

The Kiama MP, Matt Brown, did not vote against the privatisation in caucus but it is understood he told caucus he was worried that the sale of Lotteries could ruin small business in towns and regions.

Several MPs also gave TAB outlets as an example, which they said disappeared from main streets and into pubs and clubs when the TAB was privatised by the Carr government in 1998.

One senior MP said there was widespread concern in caucus that the Government was selling one of its "biggest cash cows for no good reason".

"If you are that dependent on gaming revenue, which lots of governments are, why would you sell something that makes you so much money?" the MP said.

The Government is hoping to raise between $500 million and $600 million from the sale of NSW Lotteries in a deal that would enable it to retain its annual revenue stream of more than $300 million from gaming duties.

The latest stoush over privatisation follows the battle over the sale of prisons. The Government eventually backed away from its plan to sell Cessnock jail and will instead privatise only Parklea prison. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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