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Stafford deserves a vibrant community hub.

In October 2022, Brisbane City Council assigned the Stafford Bowls Club lease to Brisbane Racing Club without tender or consultation.

In a closed-door deal marred by conflicts of interest, council passed up the opportunity to work towards a new, positive, multi-decade legacy for the bowls club.

Instead, the club will house 76 pokies that generate revenue for Brisbane Racing Club to pay down debt and fund racing infrastructure.

This deal stinks and Stafford residents deserve better. 

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What are we asking?

1

Integrity

Halt the lease, and conduct a transparent tender process for the Stafford Bowls Club.

Ensure that Brisbane Racing Club political donations don't influence the lease at the expense of our residents.

2

Vision

Build a vision for the Stafford Bowls Club that brings it to life as a community hub.

We don't need 76 pokies siphoning cash from our community. We do need the "Brisbane Vision" to be real.

3

Consultation

Engage the Stafford community at every step from vision to development.

Don't treat residents as an afterthought when making decisions that will affect our community for decades.

Help us to get a better deal for Stafford.

Join our Facebook group.  It's the best way to stay up to date and get involved.  We have around 300 members.

The BCC e-petition is now closed.  We've hit
900 signatures! OLGR submissions on the gaming license are also complete.

Write to Councillor Fiona Hammond. Ask for action on our three points of integrity, vision, and consultation.

If you still have questions, or just want to know more, check out some more information below, or see the original Linktree site.

Find out more

  • Is this a Labor/Greens/XYZ campaign?
    No. It is a community campaign. With almost 300 participants in our Facebook group at the time this was written, cross-participation between this group and other political groups is expected.
  • Do you expect council to pay for developing the facility?
    We're not asking for this, but it's one approach that has been demonstrated to be effective. Moreton Bay Regional Council faced a similar challenge with the Redcliffe Bowls Club. MBRC stepped up to ensure that their community asset was maintained in good repair. Under the stewardship of the current council, Stafford Bowls Club has become dilapidated and a risk to the community. It is within council powers to ensure that their assets are maintained and cared for, either by appropriate lease conditions, direct investment, co-funding, or community-oriented loan facilities.
  • What was the conflict of interest between BRC and the LNP-led council?
    The lease for Stafford Bowls Club was first issued to Crushers Leagues Club in 2019 under a normal tender process, which permitted any organisation to make and submit proposals for the facility. In 2022, Crushers decided they were unable to proceed with the development. This gave council an opportunity to reassess the needs of the community and the use of the site. Instead of going back to tender, the lease was assigned directly to Brisbane Racing Club in a closed-door deal. Three LNP councillors - Adam Allan, Kim Marx and David McLachlan, declared a conflict of interest due to having received gifts or donations from Brisbane Racing Club (BRC). BRC's relationship with these councillors is indicative of the potential risk for a wider conflict of interest extending to members of the same party who currently form cabinet in council. A closed-door deal plus conflicts of interest represent a substantial integrity risk, for which the only solution is an open and transparent tender process - to ensure that the lease goes to the right group, and for the right reasons.
  • Can you object to the Development Application or other permits?
    The DA was already approved by BCC. A "minor" modification was also approved in December 2022, removing one of the bowling greens and adding an outdoor music stage to the venue. There was no community consultation on this modification, including for noise or disturbance. By submitting a "minor" modification, no advertisement or consultation with the community was required. At this moment the DA and liquor licenses are approved. We intend to coordinate submissions to the Commissioner for Liquor and Gaming on the permit for 76 pokies in due course; submissions on gaming permits must be very specific in the criteria they address, so we will likely try to provide a small number of high-quality petitions for the gaming license.
  • What happened in council when the lease was debated?
    You can watch the debate here. In short, there was vigorous opposition to the lease deal for many of the reasons we've mentioned above.
  • What are you proposing to do with the site?
    We're not proposing a particular use. We know that there are around 150 community groups across Brisbane waiting for facilities like this one, and we also know that there have been many ideas and submissions in the past for how the Stafford Bowls Club could be used - some suggestions included maintaining a bowls facility, developing a multi-purpose skate facility to replace the closed Stafford Skate Rink, and use as an incubator for smaller local businesses and community groups. What's most important is that the community is consulted on use, and groups are at least given the opportunity to be heard on their proposals.
  • Are you anti-development?
    We want to see the redevelopment of the Stafford Bowls Club site. We think Stafford deserves a vibrant community hub, based out of this community asset. What we are asking for is that council follows the proper process so that the community can get the best outcome for the site. By handing the lease directly to BRC, no other groups have the opportunity to tender. Development means putting it up for tender, taking proposals, consulting the community, and evaluating what's best for our residents. It does not mean handing the lease directly to a group with conflicts-of-interest amongst the council.
  • Is it true that Brisbane City Council can't do anything about poker machines because gaming is controlled by the state?
    Absolutely untrue. While the state government issues gaming licenses, before that can occur council has the power over the development application, the facility lease, and any transfer of lease to another organisation. Just as a shopping centre owner can decide which shops to allow and where, council - as the landlord - can impose terms and conditions on the lease. In fact, council's website says this: "If your lease/licence does permit gaming on the premises, you must obtain Council's written consent, as landlord, to apply for the relevant gaming licence." Part of the standard tender process is for council to ensure "that the grant of tenure will be in the public's best interest". By neglecting to put the lease to tender, council has failed to evaluate whether BRC holding the lease is in the best interest of the public.
  • Pokies are used in many community clubs, what's different about this development?
    Pokie machines can be a source of revenue for community clubs, but it's critical to understand who is using them, why they are being used, and where the revenue is going. Brisbane Racing Club's strategic plan is to use community clubs as a diversified source of revenue to help pay down debt and invest in racing infrastructure. That means the revenue from these machines will "leak" out of the local economy. Council will tell us that the lease commits $200k per year back to community groups. To understand why this isn't a win for the community, let's do the numbers. Each machine is capable of earning around $97k per year, that's $7.3m in gaming revenue across the proposed 76 machines. A $200k contribution back to the community is just 3% of this revenue.
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