Revolving Doors

George Souris

Gambling & Liquor | Revolving Doors | The Nationals

George Souris is a former member of the NSW Parliament, representing Upper Hunter for The Nationals. During his time with the Nationals he received a total of $13,000 in donations from The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and was instrumental in signing the 2010 Memorandum of Understanding with ClubsNSW which afforded the lobbyist organisation several benefits including a $300 million tax break. Souris is now Director on the board of RacingNSW, appointed in December 2017.

Current Positions

Director, Board of RacingNSW since December 2017.

Previous Positions

Parliamentary Service:

Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly – 1988 to 2015.
Member for Upper Hunter – 1988 to 2015.
Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing and Minister Assisting the Premier – 1991 to 1992.
Minister Assisting the Premier – 24.06.1992 to 03.07.1992.
Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing – 24.06.1992 to 03.07.1992.
Assistant Treasurer – 1992 to 1993.
Minister for Ethnic Affairs – 1992 to 1993.
Minister for Finance – 1992 to 1993.
Deputy Leader of the National Party – 1993 to 1999.
Minister for Land and Water Conservation – 1993 to 1995.
Shadow Minister for Finance – 1995 to 1996 and 1999 to 2002.
Shadow Minister for Public Works – 1995 to 1999.
Shadow Minister for Roads – 1995 to 1999.
Shadow Minister for Mineral Resources – 1999 to 2000.
Shadow Minister for State Development – 1999 to 2002 and 2003 to 2005.
Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs and Services – 1999 to 2003.
Shadow Minister for Gaming – 2002 to 2003.
Shadow Minister for Gaming and Racing – 2003 to 2008.
Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation – 2005 to 2008.
Shadow Minister for Major Events – 2007 to 2008.
Shadow Minister for Hospitality and Tourism, Racing and Major Events – 2008 to 2011.
Minister for the Arts – 2011 to 2014.
Minister for the Hunter – 2013 to 2014.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing – 2011 to 2014.
Legislative Assembly Trustee, Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Fund – 2011 to 2014.

Parliamentary Committees:

Member, Joint Select Committee upon the Process and Funding of the Electoral System – 1990 to 1991.
Member, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – 1989 to 1991.
Member, Standing Committee on Public Works – 1995 to 1999.
Member, Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety (Staysafe) – 2003 to 2011.
Chair, Legislative Assembly Committee on Law and Safety – 2014 to 2015.

Revolving Door

George Souris was appointed Director on the board of RacingNSW in December 2017 “on a four-year term during which he will be paid more than $250,000.”

  • Announcing Souris’ appointment to the RacingNSW board, Racing Minister Paul Toole said “‘As a former NSW minister for racing, Mr Souris brings a wealth of racing knowledge and experience.’”

In 2010, alongside then-NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, Mr Souris signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ClubsNSW named ‘Strong Clubs Stronger Communities’. The intent being to “‘neutralise’ registered clubs by persuading them not to campaign against the Coalition.” In return “a future Coalition government would extend the ClubsNSW license for the electronic Keno game from 2022 to 2050.” The MoU also accounted for a $300 million tax break for the clubs industry in NSW.

  • In recognition of Mr Souris’ departure from parliament, then ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said “Minister Souris had helped ensure the long-term future of the registered club industry through the delivery of measures contained in the MOU signed in 2010.”

In 2010-11 Mr Souris received three separate donations from the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW Branch. Two of these donations worth $1,499 each were labelled ‘Lunch with George Souris’, the third, worth $10,000, was a ‘Donation to George Souris campaign’.

Praised by Federal President of Club Manager’s Association Australian (CMAA) Bill Clegg in the CMAA’s 2011 Mid-Year Conference Brochure titled ‘Fight for Survival’ against the mandatory pre-commitment scheme led by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard. In his statement, Clegg said “Premier [Barry] O’Farrell and Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing George Souris have been long-term friends of our industry.” Clegg later said “For those members who attended the CMAA Conference at Darling Harbour on March 1 and heard now-minster Souris’ address, it is particularly pleasing that we have strong allies in the current and controversial fight with the Federal Government concerning mandatory pre-commitment technology for all poker machines in Australia.”

As Minister for Hospitality in 2012, Souris was jointly represented by ClubsNSW and the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) in their flood relief package for clubs and hotels in the Barwon electorate.

  • Making further use of this representation, Souris “also announced the extension of a separate scheme which allows clubs and pubs suffering financial hardship because of the indoor smoking ban to defer payment of their poker machine tax.”

Related Items

07.10.2012 – As Minister for Hospitality, Mr Souris announced the new training framework for ClubsNSW targeted towards directors and managers of registered clubs in NSW. He attributed the framework as “‘another significant reform identified in the Memorandum of Understanding that we signed with ClubsNSW to help secure the viability of registered clubs across the State.’” Later in his statement he announced “‘The NSW Government is working closely with the industry to ensure clubs are involved in developing the framework and they benefit from the opportunities it presents.’” Also noting that “‘Training for directors will focus on board operations and club finances’”.

Introduced a State Parliament Bill in October 2011 that “allows clubs to maintain [poker] machine numbers during de-amalgamation, rather than being forced to give up one in six machines”. Souris announced this in conjunction with “a package of concessions in a pre-election agreement between ClubsNSW and the Coalition, which has also delivered $300 million in tax breaks on their machine profits.” This being a result of the MoU he signed with ClubsNSW in October 2010.

  • In June 2011, Souris proposed the “‘three strikes’ legislation under which hotels, but not clubs, face the loss of their license after repeated breaches of the Liquor Act.”

Attended the ClubsNSW Gala event in June 2013 as then-Minister for Hospitality and Tourism. Souris appeared alongside other ministers including Citizenship and Communities Minister Victor Dominello, and Sport and Recreation Minister Graham Annesley. Then NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell was also in attendance.

26.03.2013 – Awarded the Manager of ClubNSW’s ClubSAFE program Rowen Cameron with an Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement. Souris presented the award to the problem gambling counsellor at the Responsible Gambling Fund Conference held in Sydney.

As the NSW Gaming and Racing Minister, Souris congratulated ClubsNSW and the Salvation Army on “‘Combining for the greater good’” in their attempts to combat gambling addiction from poker machines inside their venues. A joint-venture which has been opposed by many anti-poker machine campaigners, including Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, criticising the opportunism displayed by ClubsNSW in attempting to supress a “fearless and outspoken organisation” in the Salvation Army.

14.02.2013 – Involved in the NSW Government’s redirection of high school alcohol education programs and related child neglect cases offshore to the UK. As Minister for Hospitality, Souris “launched an education resource for senior NSW high school children, which directs students concerned about neglect to their nearest UK Council.”

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