As we conclude the current financial year, members should be well pleased with our results for 2003.
When the Annual Report is published in the New Year, a healthy profit will be recorded as your Club continues to remain debt free.
It was a fairly routine year in an environment still impacted by unrest both at home and overseas.
In fact it is hard to see how this will change in the foreseeable future and we will just have to adjust accordingly.
The St George Leagues Club has done just that and full marks to all of our staff for a wonderful team effort.
In addition, the intrusion of the State Government into the Club industry seems never ending.
We have seen in recent times changes to trading hours, gaming regulations, responsible serving of alcohol, smoking policies etc.
All these measures have been legislated with the best of intentions, under the banner of harm minimisation, to protect the minority (estimated to be some 3%).
It is also fair to say that no responsible Club would ever want to take advantage of this small minority of our population.
Whatever happened to self-regulation within the industry? At this stage there has been no published information to say these harm-minimisation policy initiatives have produced any measurable changes to peoples behaviour.
Now we are facing the biggest challenge of all with the announcement by the NSW Treasurer in the 2003-4 Budget of significant increases to gaming machine taxation.
This new tax will be charged on revenue and not on profit.
Clubs NSW commissioned a report by the Allen Consulting Group and part of it states: "for the 64 largest Clubs (including St George Leagues Club) earning gaming revenues greater than $10 million, tax paid will increase by 66 per cent on average." This is a severe impost on our future profitability and our ability to sustain our longstanding commitments to the community.
I refer you to the report of our General Manager on page 6.
This year the NRL team finished 10th, missing out on qualifying for the Final Series.
It was a difficult year plagued by injuries to our representative players.
In general terms, the Dragons were without key players for 50 per cent of the competition and only won 50 per cent of the games, just one game short of a Final Series berth.
However, we have the utmost confidence in our coaching staff under the direction of Nathan Brown to learn from the disappointment of 2003.
The Premier League team finished 4th and also made it through to the final four in the Final Series in which they were beaten by Penrith, who won the Premiership.
Our St George junior representative team qualified for the Grand Final of the Harold Mathews Cup but was defeated by Parramatta.
These young players should be congratulated on what they achieved and were excellent representatives of our Club.
Please note that memberships for 2004 are due on 31 December 2003.
Forms will be forwarded to you offering a number of options.
The festive season is fast approaching and there is no better place to celebrate with family and friends than the St George Leagues Club, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff, I extend to all our members and their families best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.
Warren Lockwood Chairman