Number’s up for newsagents?

BRAVE FACE: Market Place newsagent Peter Watt is concerned about the impact changes to NSW Lotteries might have on the industry.WALK in to any local newsagency and you will be greeted by a familiar smile and a swathe of multi-coloured Lottery signs, promoting what has become the life-force of the industry.

For five years a legislated moratorium gave NSW newsagencies exclusive access to the sale of NSW Lottery products.

Come April, the Agency Protection Period will expire, with it the terms preventing Coles, Woolworths, petrol stations and other big business from doing the very same.

Goulburn’s Market Place Newsagent Peter Watt stood on Wednesday, illuminated by his own bright set of lights, and expressed fear at what could lay ahead for the 1500 newsagents across the state.

“To be frank, 40 to 90 per cent of revenue from all over the state is derived from NSW Lottery. If you take it out then most newsagents will fail and no longer exist,” Mr Watt, a Board Director of the Newsagents Association of NSW & ACT (NANA), told the Post.

“If you go back years ago newspapers were always king, but over time the papers are declining and now lotteries have grown bigger and bigger and bigger.

“In Goulburn, from my perspective, if it was to go into supermarkets and big business then you would see that people would start to move toward them.

“You’d be looking at only having one or two newsagencies as opposed to four.”

In 2010, the privately owned Tatts Group was extended a $1 billion 40- year lease of NSW lotteries by the State Government.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the moratorium was included in legislation to allow vendors time to adjust to greater competition.

Now at the end of that period, a new franchise agreement has been proposed by Tatts.

Terms include increasing the number of agents, allowing big business into the network, no geographic exclusivity and expensive marketing fit-outs.

With April fast approaching, the NSW Newsagencies Association is scrambling to have their concerns heard and potentially save the jobs of some 150,000 people.

They, through a large-scale petition which closed on Tuesday, have called upon the NSW Government to indefinitely extend the protection period and “enshrine the protective measure to support viability of key community small businesses”.

Mr Watt said while final numbers on the petition are yet to be finalised the figure will be “well in excess of 100,000”.

Labor’s pledge NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has committed to enact laws to protect newsagents and small businesses if Labor makes it through the March polls.

He was joined by Shadow Minister for Small Business Adam Searle last Tuesday to announce the party plan.

“I want to see thriving and successful small businesses in our suburb and our regional town centres – a Labor government would ensure local newsagents are protected by enacting laws to support a fair deal on the sale of NSW Lotteries products,” Mr Foley said.

He committed to preserving current agency protections, continuing to restrict the outlets available to sell lottery products and to work with local newsagents and Tatts Lotto to ensure a “sensible commercial arrangement is established”.

Country Labor Candidate for Goulburn Ursula Stephens was spotted on Wednesday visiting local agents to deliver the news.

Sitting member for Goulburn, and Liberal candidate, Pru Goward was contacted for comment.

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