Who is SLOPES?
SLOPES is the acronym for The Ski Lodges Organisation of Perisher Smiggins and Guthega Inc.
SLOPES is a not for profit entity incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1984 whose principal object is:
To represent the club lodges at Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes and Guthega Village, New South Wales (or such of the club lodges as may be members of the Association) in respect to any matter or thing which may affect those club lodges both now and in the future (and which the Committee of the Association determines is appropriate for the Association to provide representation) in negotiations with and representations to … a range of stakeholders including government, NPWS, any Chamber of Commerce and any head lessee of the Club lodges.
Members of SLOPES are the 88 Ski Clubs of the Perisher Range Resorts of Perisher, Smiggin Holes and Guthega. SLOPES represents some 55,000 people made up of Club members, friends and associates who stay in and use the Clubs’ lodges.
SLOPES was formed in 1991 when the owners of Perisher had nearly convinced the Government of the day to give them a head lease over all the Clubs and commercial operators in the Perisher area. Almost all Clubs at that time had leases that expired in 1996 to 2002.
A group of Clubs headed by John Grinham challenged this approach and set up a new body which became known as SLOPES. The group quickly attained 100% membership of all the 88 Ski Clubs in the area. The Committee made representations to all members of the NSW Parliament and a Parliamentary Select Environment Committee and finally the Government came down in favour instead of issuing new leases to all Clubs and some commercial operators. SLOPES represented the Clubs in the negotiations and in 1996 88 new Club leases were issued with an extended expiry date of 2025.
What does SLOPES do?
SLOPES, having achieved this objective, felt there was need for ongoing representation. It had become clear that all Clubs had common objectives, namely the promotion of sports for members by providing a community of varying ages and experiences who could cross pollinate and encourage the young. The absence of a profit motive and a congenial low cost friendly residential atmosphere in lodges, brought about true friendships and mutual support and skills development.
SLOPES recognised that the core of a Club was the lodge that made the Club sporting activities possible. Clubs needed help in maintaining this core. Many Club problems are common which others have already encountered or need to address at the same time and SLOPES assists in the sharing and provision of information by and to Clubs.
With over 2 decades of successful advocacy on behalf of the Clubs SLOPES is recognised by Government and other relevant parties as the representative organisation for the Clubs in their capacity as stakeholders in the Perisher Range Resorts.
The strength of SLOPES is that we speak for all the 88 Club Lodges in Perisher, Smiggins and Guthega.
Timeline of SLOPES Activities
1991 – Head Lease – SLOPES opposes a Perisher Range Resorts head lease and instead procures the grant of new leases extended to 2025 for Clubs
1995 – Accommodation Minimum Size – a major problem arose because the NSW Health legislation required that all bedrooms had to measure 5.5 sqm floor area per sleeper while many Clubs had bunk rooms measuring only 10 sqm, with 4 or 5 bunks in them. With lobbying the legislation was changed to 2 sqm per bed for non-permanent accommodation
1996 – Land Valuation – SLOPES negotiated with the Valuer General a logical valuation process that relied on both bed numbers and the locations relative to services to agree land valuations used for the setting of rentals paid to NPWS
1997 – Guthega Closure – a Commission of Inquiry was called to look at increasing bed supply in the PRR and consider a proposal by NPWS to close all Guthega lodges. SLOPES helped deliver a decision by the Commission to allocate 800 new beds to a Village centre and 520 beds elsewhere and the Guthega closure proposed was abandoned
1997-2000 – Municipal Services Charges – SLOPES worked with NPWS to obtain more transparency in monies spent in the Perisher Range Resorts that were charged to Clubs as Municipal Service Fees leading to biannual joint meetings with full tabling of all cash flows and budgets and round table discussions, a process that continues to this day
2002 – Land Valuations – a full round of land valuations was negotiated with the Valuer General
2003 – Insurance Program – due to rising costs and the increasing difficulty of obtaining satisfactory cover SLOPES found a broker willing to shop around with the major insurers, local and overseas. A pool of Clubs was formed resulting in a managed group insurance program delivering better cover at less cost for participating Clubs
2004/5 – IPART Review – a review of the PRR to upgrade the roads, water and sewage to a more modern standard lead to a reference to IPART calling for a full pricing and works listing program to be planned and adopted. Detailed presentations to IPART by SLOPES helped achieve a reasonable cost distribution across all the parties involved
2000/01 – Planning in KNP – after the Thredbo disaster the NSW Government held the Walker Inquiry resulting in the major planning activities for KNP being removed from NPWS and handed over to the Department of Planning, which then set up an office in Jindabyne. SLOPES negotiated and worked with Planning on the implementation of the new system
2007/08 – Extra Beds and Lease extensions – the sale of 520 beds, was made a co-issue of extending leases to 2058. A joint working group with NPWS, SLOPES and the commercial operators negotiated the pricing for the beds and new leases with all the beds being issued and new leases offered in 2008. Some 78 out of 88 Clubs accepted the lease extensions from 2025 to 2058 (the so called ‘new leases’).
2007 – Land revaluation – SLOPES negotiated a lower increase average of 30% with NPWS and the Valuer General with savings to Clubs to flow through until the 2020s
2007 – SLOPES successfully ran a test case with the ATO regarding the application of the promotion of sport tax exemption for Clubs
2008 – PRR Roads – SLOPES was active in working with NPWS on the road designs and implementation across the PRR
2009 – Back to Perisher – to encourage more active Club usage in summer SLOPES partnered with NPWS to launch the Back to Perisher Weekend starting in Easter 2009 – an annual event that continues to this day
2011 – Tax and Sport – SLOPES promotes awareness of the new ATO guidelines issued regarding the income tax exemption for Clubs that satisfy the “promotion of sport” test
2011/12 – Perisher Valley Fire Station – a Perisher Valley Fire Station (PVFS) campaign is waged by SLOPES to oppose ‘closure’ of PVFS outside of winter season. Ultimately operational guidelines are agreed with FRNSW for all peak times outside of winter – and full manning continues during winter
2012 – Grease Traps and Tanks – the introduction by NPWS of guidelines for new grease traps and underground oil tanks is co-ordinated by SLOPES
2012 – AGR Reporting – SLOPES negotiated with NPWS on behalf of the members regarding the introduction of a new reporting requirement on Annual Gross Revenue (AGR).
2013/14 – Group Insurance Program relaunch –the Clubs’ group insurance program is relaunched following the collapse of All Class Insurance Brokers. This involved a full commercial tender leading to the appointment of JLT as the new broker. The transition phase was managed despite the All Class collapse occurring at policy renewal time. Even more Clubs sign on to the JLT program which delivers additional benefits to participating Clubs
2013 – Website – SLOPES launches its first website containing information and contact details for the benefit of Clubs
2013 – NSW Tourism Inquiry – SLOPES lodges a submission on behalf of Clubs to the NSW Government Inquiry into Tourism in Local Communities
2014 – Waste Transfer Station – the new Perisher Waste Transfer Station (WTS) commences operation and SLOPES co-ordinates the transitional operational activities
2014 – OH&S – a Workplace Health & Safety analysis and update issued for Clubs to consider
2015 – Peak Music Festival and Sporting Sponsorships – on behalf of Clubs and following AGM consultation SLOPES commences sponsorship of the 5 key PRR competitive Inter-Club skiing events (including The Perisher Cup) and also commences matching sponsorship for the annual Peak Music Festival over the June long weekend
2015 – Waste – the introduction by NPWS of organic waste collection services by NPWS in winter season is co-ordinated on behalf of Clubs
2015/17 – Governance and Carrying Capacity Reviews – the Governance and Carrying Capacity Reviews of the Perisher Range Resorts (and Charlotte Pass) are announced by OEH. SLOPES represents Clubs’ interests with all relevant stakeholders including lodging a detailed and historic joint submission with Perisher and the Perisher Chamber of Commerce in relation to the Governance Review welcoming the review and supporting the head lease model of governance for the Perisher Range Resorts. In June 2017 OEH announces that the Governance Review has “concluded” without a head lease being offered to any proponent but confirms that “the stakeholder engagement, market engagement and EOI (had) revealed that a head lease is the preferred management model for resorts within Kosciuszcko National Park”.
2017 – New SLOPES website – SLOPES announces the launch of its totally new website: http://slopes.org.au/. In conjunction the SLOPES logo and letterhead are redesigned, the first such changes in decades. The goal is for Clubs to visit the website and use it as their first point of reference when looking for information issued by SLOPES affecting Clubs. The website is a repository of SLOPES emails, President’s Reports, AGM minutes, financial reports and other records going back 2 decades and easily accessible by Clubs
2017 – Clubs survey – utilising the new website Clubs are asked to participate in a survey to provide SLOPES with information to properly represent them eg in relation to governance review negotiations and to explore additional initiatives to assist Clubs. There is an excellent level of participation and a high level report on key findings of the survey is provided at the 2017 AGM
2017 – Corroboree Road – SLOPES worked with clubs on Corroboree Road in Smiggins on the Smugglers development application to rebuild. They had particularly objected to the mass and height of the building that was out of character with the surrounding lodges and impeded some views. Though not successful except to the extent that disruptive construction that winter was halted by Planning, it raised awareness of the need for a mutually coordinated review of development proposals where warranted.
2018 – Insurance Program record participation – In April the JLT Insurance Program renewal details ware announced with another successful outcome for participating Clubs. The Program, which has been operating since 2003, in 2018 has the highest ever number of Clubs participating, 70 out of 88.
Insurance cost savings to most clubs participating moderated to that extent the relative high proportion of lease rent and municipal charges impacting on their cost base and operating margins and so their ability to grow and renew.
2018 – Energy review – in response to feedback in the SLOPES 2017 Clubs survey, SLOPES announces in July/August a new initiative to pursue savings on energy use for Club lodges through a group purchase arrangement. Energy Action (an energy broker) is engaged by SLOPES to act on behalf of participating Clubs. Clubs that participate may expect to see a significant reduction in energy costs. Associates of SLOPES are invited to participate if they wish and quite a number from Charlotte Pass and other locations sign up
2018 – Website – Trades and suppliers – in response to feedback in the SLOPES 2017 Clubs survey, SLOPES announces that a new section will be added to its website called “Trades and Services” to create a database covering Club needs from accountants to workplace health and safety, with others like builders, cleaners, electricians and plumbers in between. Clubs are asked for recommendations to help build this database. The new section is launched at the 2018 AGM
2018 – Perisher View Ski Lodge – in October SLOPES lodged a submission with the Department of Planning and Environment objecting to the Development Application in respect of the proposed Perisher View Ski Lodge on Front Valley. SLOPES update emails note that “Clubs, their members and others associated with them are encouraged to lodge individual objections in relation to the proposal”. SLOPES is informed that over 200 separate objections are lodged with the Department by the closing date in late October. SLOPES also writes to OEH raising the issue of the subdivision to create the Perisher View lot in the first place with no notification during that process.
2018 – SLOPES AGM – at the AGM on 19 November 2018 the following important announcements were made:
- Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced that the NSW Government had approved NPWS entering into direct negotiations with Perisher in relation to a possible head lease over the Perisher Range Resorts of Perisher, Smiggin Holes and Guthega. This is an important and historic step which hopefully will lead to the once in a generation changes needed to optimise the governance of the Perisher Range Resorts. Since 2015 SLOPES, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, has lead the way on this initiative as a head lease to Perisher is critical to facilitating the significant investment needed to make the Perisher Range Resorts world class
- Peter Brulisauer, Chief Operating Officer of Perisher, commented on Perisher’s current discussions with the Department of Planning regarding exciting changes proposed at Mt Perisher including replacement of the Mt Perisher Double Chairlift and Mt Perisher Triple Chairlift with a new detachable 6 seat chairlift, and also the renovation of the Mt Perisher Double Chairlift restaurant
- the new Trades and Suppliers section on the SLOPES website was launched, and
- the results were announced of the SLOPES initiative with Energy Action to reduce energy costs for participating Clubs by means of collective negotiation. As the result of a competitive EOI process the overall result for the 70+ Clubs participating will be a saving of some $165,000 pa for the next 2 years. While the discounts vary from Club to Club depending on individual factors, the overall reduction is around 18% – an excellent outcome.
2019 – Club Leases Clause 7.9 Certificates – Every 10 years it is a condition of the Club leases from NPWS to satisfy the clause 7.9 services certifications. The first obligation occurred in 2019. SLOPES obtained quotes from the various trades needed to do the certifications and created a list of recommendations Clubs could contact to do the inspections.
2019 – SLOPES AGM – More than 80 Club representatives and speakers attended our AGM on 18 November. A couple of key points were presented at the 2019 AGM:
- Head Lease. NSW Government released a document titled “Perisher Negotiation Update”. This document confirmed it was in head lease negotiations with Perisher/Vail and had agreed on a two-stage process now in progress. It is in Phase 2 that “consultation with key stakeholder groups will be critical” – with specific reference to SLOPES (which has been and will monitor this process very closely on behalf of Clubs – especially as regards the existing user safeguards which need to be put in place as part of a Head Lease).
- Iconic Walks Project. Senior Project Officer, Maggie Sutcliff, outlined the concept and vision for various 3 to 5 day walks around the Kosciuszko National Park linking the villages and key attractions. The purpose of upgrading existing and building 3 new walking trails in the Perisher Thredbo precinct is to establish linked pathways for iconic walks of up to 5 days aimed at new destination summer visitors and reducing crowding on the main tracks to the summit of Mt Kosciusko. The NPWS project is in part made possible by Snowy 2 funds received by NSW from the Federal Government.
2020 – Bushfires – January saw KNP closed and wildfires threatening the Perisher Range Resort villages. SLOPES liaised with the authorities to keep members informed, safe and ready.
2020 – COVID-19 – The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March started a whole new level of engagement by SLOPES with and on behalf of Clubs. This included keeping up with the constantly changing rules and restrictions, liaising with NSW Health, NPWS, doctors, testing clinics and others, working through rent relief, JobKeeper and JobSeeker, issues with opening or closing lodges and commercial accommodation, keeping close to Perisher/Vail and seeking extensive legal advice on behalf of Clubs on the best direction for our members on many issues.
2020 – Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct (SMSAP) – SLOPES has two representatives on the SMSAP community advisory group which is putting forward ideas to create a Masterplan by 2021. The SMSAP vision is “to increase year-round tourism and make the region an unmissable place to visit any season, any time”.
2020 – Insurance Review – SLOPES has commissioned an independent consultant to review the group insurance scheme which has operated successfully since 2003 and to check for value and best conditions for our Clubs. The purpose of the insurance review is also to explore ways to abate the serious hike in lodge premiums following the dramatic fires along the eastern seaboard and ranges (including the KNP) in the summer of 2019/2020 and the new focus on international climate related risks by insurers and underwriters making the availability of bushfire cover increasingly uncertain.
2019/20 – Emerging – Clubs from other resorts have taken an interest in the work of SLOPES, including participating in our insurance an energy plans, and some have joined SLOPES as Associates.
2020/2021 – 30 Years of SLOPES – This was the 30th anniversary of SLOPES founding. Over that 30 years the purpose for setting up SLOPES has been confirmed in the many initiatives taken for Clubs and the results achieved – perhaps no more vividly than in the last 18 months with th response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent restructuring of the Clubs insurance program.
2021 and COVID-19: ‘A Year Worse than 2020’ – The 2020/21 Summer and Easter Periods ran their course as usual up until June with travel throughout NSW general free and open (but with ongoing restrictions on community sporting activities.
The winter 2021 season opened with great optimism. Clubs are fully booked or almost so in most cases with members and guests keen to make up for the disappointments of winter 2020 and Clubs hopeful of recouping some of the financial loss suffered last year from the fires and COVID-19 restrictions.
And then……starting in mid-June, the Eastern Suburbs outbreak began and with alarming speed the full effect of the highly contagious new Delta variant was unleashed on NSW as LGA after LGA succumbed to lockdowns and travel restrictions made trips to the snow impossible for people across NSW and the ACT.
The continuation of the coronavirus pandemic and the new Delta variant that emerged in June 2021 started a whole new level of engagement by SLOPES with and on behalf of Clubs. This included keeping up with the constantly hanging rules and restrictions, liaising with NSW Health, NPWS, doctors, testing clinics and others, working through relief for rent and MSU charges, issues with opening or closing lodges and commercial accommodation, and mask wearing, keeping close to Perisher Vail and seeing extensive legal advice on behalf of Clubs on the best direction for our members on many issues.
2021 – Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct (SMSAP) – The long awaited draft Master Plan was released for public exhibition on 8 June. This meant that the proposals for a head lease for the Perisher Range Resorts are put on hold until further notice.
2021/21 – Insurance Program – In mid 2020, SLOPES retained Barrack Broking (Barrack) to undertake a comprehensive review of the insurance opportunities that might be in the best interests of members. In that report Barrack expressed concern that insurance cover would not be available from any source for our Clubs at the time of our next renewal in May 2021. As a result, SLOPES appointed Barrack Broking to act as the broker on behalf of participating SLOPES Clubs and retained Barrack to approach insurers to obtain the best possible terms available for the next year. The Barrack Insurance Scheme received initial support from over 60 Clubs (today there are over 70 Clubs) and was put in place to commence on 15 January 2021. This was only 4 weeks after the mid December launch, a period impacted by the Christmas/New Year break, a terrific credit to the leadership of our Clubs.
2021 – Energy Action Program – In May 2021 a new Energy Bill Buster Program was offered to all Clubs. Initially introduced in 2018 this Program pursues savings on energy for Club lodges through a group purchase arrangement. Energy Action (an energy broker engaged by SLOPES) acts on behalf of participating Clubs through a rolling series of programs. SLOPES participating Clubs have seen significant reductions in energy costs.
2021 – SLOPES Website – The SLOPES website includes links to related sites of relevance to Clubs. For the benefit of all there is a section containing the website addresses of our Member Clubs and Associates which are know to SLOPES. The website is continually updated to keep it current and make it the easy go-to point for SLOPES emails and commentary generally on issues of interest to our Clubs.
SLOPES Survey of Clubs October 2021 – The SLOPES Survey of Clubs revealed: It is very clear from media reports that sporting and community organisations have been particularly affected by the pandemic. The survey of 74 SLOPES members showed that as a direct consequence of COVID-19:
- 51% of clubs suffered a loss of revenue of more than 50% in 2020
- 86% of clubs suffered a loss of revenue of more than 50% in 2021
- Alarmingly 64% of clubs suffered a loss of more than 70% in 2021 – compared toon 20% in 2020
Clubs were split roughly 50:50 on managing through using their reserves vs having to take action such as asking members to contribute funds to keep afloat. Two Clubs said they were close to shutting the door in absence of help.