New ban on strip clubs accepting COVID vouchers
Strip clubs have been struck off a government scheme aimed at reviving the state's entertainment and hospitality sector - in a move which has angered business owners who hoped the stimulus would give them a much-needed boost.
Numerous strip clubs successfully registered for the state government's Dine and Discover scheme which gives every NSW resident up to four $25 vouchers to spend in restaurants and entertainment venues.
Up until yesterday that list included establishments like Kings Cross's Bada Bing, "Sydney's hottest strip club" The Petersham Inn and Minx Gentlemen's Club in the city.
But Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has intervened to stop taxpayer money from being used at the erotic establishments.
"The businesses mentioned have been removed from the program and can no longer accept vouchers," he said.
"We will amend the program guidelines to ensure strip clubs cannot accept vouchers going forward."
The decision to exclude The Petersham Inn has angered owner Jimmy Olsen who has strippers performing three nights a week. He registered for the scheme so patrons could buy food with their vouchers in a bid to give his business a much needed boost.
"I think it is political … with everything happening in parliament, on top of the Me Too movement, there is a lot of upheaval around these issues now," he said.
"These politicians are keeping their seats nice and warm for themselves, they're not in our industry, they don't care about niche industries."
Owner of Bada Bing Gary Papadopoulos said only a handful of patrons had used their $25 voucher to pay the entry fee to the strip club - which he said was a good value night out.
"The drinks are not overpriced, they are $10 a drink, but if you want to start tipping and throwing your money around you can lose heaps," he said.
"Everybody has had a tough time, our government put the whole economy to sleep so we're just trying to stay alive. We have to pay rent, we've got landlords, we have electricity, we have insurance, they haven't gone away."
Filmmaker and former pole dancer Barbarella Karpinski said people should have the choice on how they spent their entertainment vouchers.
"Some people might want to spend their voucher on cinemas or travel and others on strip tease clubs and sex industry businesses," she said.
"It's about economic not moral choices. As a former pole dancer I know the high level of skill and practice needed to dance professionally. And workers in the sex industry need to eat and feed their families too so the vouchers would be helpful."
Australian Taxpayers Alliance policy director Emily Dye said taxpayers should be annoyed the government was telling them how they should spend their own money.
"We would be a lot better off simplifying things and cutting taxes rather than giving out money and telling people where they can spend it and where they can't," she said.
Originally published as New ban on strip clubs accepting COVID vouchers