Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Romsey Resurrected and the PokieAct Blog Begins

The small Victorian country town of Romsey (Population about 4,500) is the home of the longest sustained effort to bring pokies to a community that doesn't want them.

Back in 2004, the Hogan hotel group applied for 30 pokie licenses. The Victorian Gambling Commission knocked them back. Hogan appealed to the Victorian Administrative Tribunal and won. The local Shire of Macedon Ranges appealed to the Supreme Court of Victoria who also knocked back the Hogan's pokies.

Fast forward to 2008 and Hogan is at it again. The Tribunal hearing started about a half hour late. There were 9 lawyers at the head table most of whom wanting to trash the past.

The Supreme Court made it clear that the community's feelings about pokies was important and the Gambling Commission needs to defend its findings when they are being appealed against. None of this seemed to matter.

In the first few minutes the Commission indicated that it was only going to help update evidence. Justice Bell politely asked them if they had read the Supreme Court decision.

Hogan's expert witness dissed all the surveyed views of Romsey community opposing pokies as something emotional that they might grow out of over time.

Justice Bell pondered a vision of how an estimated $13.5 million would be spent on 30 pokies in the Romsey pub in a year and what this might do to the well being of a town with two petrol stations, two banks, two supermarkets two cafes and a skate park.

Welcome to the pokie world.

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