PREMIER Mark McGowan and government ministers were treated like heroes at an Australian Lottery and Newsagents’ Association gala luncheon at Crown Casino.
Burswood Amcal West chemist owner Tyson Wellman bowed on stage to express his gratitude with the new State government, who stepped in to resolve issues with Lotterywest’s controversial Retail Transformation Program and distribution plan.
Under the Liberal State Government, Lotterywest’s RTP involved the mandatory installation of Lottery shop fits as part of the franchise agreement.
Former Lotterywest chief executive Paul Andrew said RTP would modernise the network and would provide contemporary ways to play Lotto through the best available technology. It involved signage, shop fits and technology.
However, ALNA members claimed some quotes for shop fits had blown out more than $100,000 and more than 100 more outlets could open across the state.
Subiaco Square Newsagency owner Dean Scott said the RTP and distribution plan would have caused the demise of his business.
“While one department of Lotterywest was telling me to spend $35 to $40,000 on a refit, another department was signing off on opening a new outlet 100m from my shop, which according to Lotterywest, would see me lose 15 per cent of my Lotto sales,” he said.
Bunbury Central News owner Suzanne Cross said Lotterywest’s “bullying tactics” had caused her tears, frustration and anxiety.
“The utterly toxic relationship had hit an all time low,” she said.
Premier Mark McGowan said while campaigning at shopping centres for the State election, he had spoken to many newsagency owners about their grievances.
Once elected, Mr McGowan ordered a full review of RTP.
He suspended the expansion of Lotterywest outlets and need would have to be demonstrated before new outlets were considered.
He said newsagency owners would be reimbursed their ancillary costs and he changed the signage strategy so jackpot signs could be displayed.
Mr McGowan said Racing and Gaming was looking into legislative blocks to online threats to newsagencies, such as Lottoland.
Former Perth Zoo chief executive Susan Hunt was appointed as the new head of government-owned Lotterywest.
“I know there has been a lot of bad blood,” Ms Hunt said.
“But I hope we can work though this in a reciprocal and collaborative way,” she said.
Ms Hunt said her aim was to mend the volatile relationship between Lotterywest and ALNA members.
“Lottoland is the real threat and we need to work together,” she said.
Ms Cross thanked Mr McGowan for everything he had done to help resolve the issues.
“We want to move forward with new beginnings with the new CEO Susan Hunt,” she said.
“For the past two years the journey has been hard, but with your continued support and the new CEO we will ride the waves together and make Lotterwest a great West Australian organisation again.”
Liberal Party small business spokeswoman Libby Mettam said she was travelling around WA talking to small businesses about their concerns.
“I am well aware that, for many newsagents, Lotto is fundamental to their sustainability and we are keen to ensure their concerns are heard,” she said.
“We will monitor the response of the Government and work to ensure the concerns of newsagents are addressed.
“I will also take their concerns back to my colleagues, particularly Opposition Leader Mike Nahan and Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming John McGrath to ensure my colleagues have heard the concerns of newsagents and will take their issues on board when these matters are discussed in Parliament.”