Bowls Victoria

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — I rise to bring a matter to the attention of the Minister for Sport and Recreation in his capacity as the minister responsible for state sporting associations, most specifically Bowls Victoria. The action I seek is that the minister review Bowls Victoria’s recently announced new method for determining and collecting affiliation fees to be levied by clubs over the next three seasons.

In its special bulletin dated 9 April 2014 Bowls Victoria announced it was moving away from a scheme whereby affiliation fees are paid per member to a scheme where they will be paid per club. The new system will initially apply to seasons 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17. There will be a single fee based on total affiliation fees paid by each club in 2013–14 and this will be adjusted annually until 2016–17 for operating cost increases incurred by Bowls Victoria. Bowls Victoria has determined the adjustment for year 1, 2014–15, to be 7 per cent, but this figure will be different year on year. The core concern is that this new system of collecting affiliation fees has the potential to inadvertently hurt clubs, especially clubs already operating in a tough competitive market with dwindling membership numbers.

On Friday, 15 August, I met with Ray Capuano, chairman of the Buckley Park Bowls Club, and Bob Duddington, secretary of Keilor Bowls Club — two wonderful bowls clubs in my electorate that I am proud to be a member of. Bowls Victoria is the governing body for the sport of bowls in the state of Victoria. In order for clubs to participate in competitive bowls across Victoria and Australia, they must be affiliated with Bowls Victoria. Affiliation fees have traditionally been charged annually at the beginning of the bowls season for each member of a club who plays pennant bowls. The new method will be based on a club’s total affiliation fees in 2013–14 with an adjustment for operating costs to be applied each season until 2016–17. This is very unfair on clubs which have dwindling membership, as they will be expected to pay the same fees for the next three years, plus costs, regardless of how many pennant players they actually have.

This new affiliation fees framework may be highly beneficial to clubs where membership numbers are on the rise, but it is highly disadvantageous to clubs such as Buckley Park and Keilor where membership numbers are not rising. This method of payment will serve to further reduce numbers due to the increased costs. In the case of the Buckley Park Bowls Club, it has lost 34 members since last season through death, illness, retirement or transfer. The new calculation method will cost the club $1027 for Bowls Victoria affiliation for pennant players they no longer have. It will apply till 2016–17. If Buckley Park Bowls Club is unable to attract new pennant players and indeed loses more players over the next three seasons, this will have a disastrous compounding financial effect.

Buckley Park Bowls Club is not the only club in this difficult situation. Many suburban bowls clubs across the state will be under mounting pressures. The Bowls Victoria website states:

… it also has a social objective to enhance existing bowling communities and to position bowls clubs and the sport in the wider community.

It also states:

Clubs can lean on Bowls Victoria for support in a range of areas.

Struggling bowls clubs are looking for more support. I want to stress that both Buckley Park Bowls Club and Keilor Bowls Club came to me seeking assistance and that they had already been in contact with Bowls Victoria. As the no. 1 ticketholder at Buckley Park Bowls Club and a social member of the Keilor Bowls Club, I request that the Minister for Sport and Recreation investigate this new model of affiliation fees implemented by Bowls Victoria and consider the detrimental impact of the charges on bowls clubs in my electorate and around the state.

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