Bowling clubs are being forced to consider if they can keep their doors open after the NSW government hiked up their rent.
Hundreds of property owners were contacted this week about rental increase for properties on Crown land, including many of the states bowling clubs.
Bondi Bowls Club president Matty Graham said he was hit with a 420 per cent rent hike this week.
“To say I am devastated would be an understatement, it feels like a bit of a classic stitch up really,” he told Today on Friday morning.
The volunteer-run Bondi Bowling Club will see their annual rent increase from $22,000 per year to $95,000 each year.
The not-for-profit club has stayed open and pokie-free with the support of volunteer staff that keep it up and running.
However, with the latest rent hike, Mr Graham says he is worried he will have to pass the cost onto patrons.
“We don’t know how it is going to impact our ability to give back to the local community, whether that means cuts in services, cuts in operating hours, having to put up prices – the last thing we want to do is put pokies back in,” he said.
Premier Chris Minns defended the decision on 2GB radio station saying the rent increase will fund the upgrade of fire trails critical to firefighting efforts and said the government had to “find the money somewhere”.
“If we don’t do that, I’ve got to find the money from somewhere and that’ll be raising taxes on businesses and households and I’m not prepared to do that,” he said.
The Penrith Bowling and Recreation Club’s rent is expected to go up from $5400 to $6500 next year.
“You’ll have to concede as Premier, some of these clubs are going to close,” host Ben Fordham probed.
“No I‘m not going to concede that,” Mr Minns replied.
He explained that properties with a turnover less than one million dollars are eligible for a “massive rebate” from the government.
“For a lot of these clubs, there’s been no material change other than inflation on the rate applied to them since 2009,” Mr Minns said.
“I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves with the 11,000 Crown land properties that have got commercial tenancies, only 330 have had rent increases of above $2,000,” he said.
“So this is not at scale threat to bowling clubs or RSL clubs or scout halls right across NSW, we’re talking about a very small percentage.”
Crown Lands NSW determines rent every five years to ensure its is in line with current market rates.