Newsagent talks on lottery deal come to a head

The Newsagents Association of NSW & the ACT is actively advising the State Government to ensure the future of 1500 newsagents as negotiations with Tatts Lotteries and the government come to a head over the exclusivity of lottery ticket sales.

The NSW Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tatts in January to extend the current five year deal giving newsagents the exclusive rights to sell lottery tickets until early 2018. The agreement was due to expire in April.

However the association is concerned over the detail, as it was not a party to the memorandum.

“We are in a very intense period of negotiations with the government,” NSW & ACT Newsagents Association chief executive Andrew Packham said.

After the NSW Labor opposition promised last month to extend the memorandum at a cost of $1 billion by 2050, Mr Packham hopes for a “firm commitment” from the Liberal government – “something that is comparable and comfortable with their philosophies”, he said.

“The memorandum has been problematic in some areas – governments sometimes release these things with detail left out. We are co-operating with them and helping them understand the consequences of decision making process.”

However he said the newsagents’ association had been “very pleased” with the government’s efforts to engage on the issue.

“From the Premier down, a commitment has been shown to ensure all avenues have been explored, and we’ve had very good access to ministers,” Mr Packham said. Treasurer Andrew Constance and Small Business Minister John Barilaro have been involved in the negotiations.

While not a party to the memorandum, the association is advising the government on the practical impacts of the agreement. A key aspect of the agreement is Tatts’ requirement that newsagents refit-out their shops over the next six years.

“We’re helping the government to understand the differences between Dubbo and Darlington, what the lay of the land is – a city place like Darlington, shop fitters are generally located in the city,” Mr Packham says.  “In Dubbo, they’ve got to go out there and stay for several days at a time. We’re advising on specs and ways of rolling out that program.

“If the government wants to maximise efficiency from taxpayer dollars, our input is important.”

The State government has also come up with $15 million so far for a newsagency assistance fund, with discussions around its implementation underway.

The newsagents association will attend a mediation session with Tatts on Monday.

“We’ll have a much better idea of the landscape by mid next week,” Mr Packham said.

“It’s not perfect by any means, but we hope there’s a concrete plan by then.

“We’ve got 1500 businesses crying out for a resolution.”

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