Monday, 18 May 2009

VCAT Appeal Lost

On Friday 8 May 2009, the VCAT heard the Gambling Commission's case that I had no right to appeal the Ballarat RSL decision.

It was an impressive turnout. The VCGR had its senior solicitor present and had briefed senior counsel. Even the Ballarat RSL had a lawyer turn up on their behalf. Their argument was that the Gambling Regulation Act strictly defined who could make an appeal to the Victorian Appeals Tribunal. I argued firstly that the decision of the VCGR was based upon a clearly incorrect finding of fact. Having regard to the Commission's clear mistake, that the directions of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria in the Romsey decision required both the Commission and the Tribunal to hear what I had to say. Here's the quote from the Supreme Court:
"There is nothing in the provisions of the GR Act to suggest that Parliament intended the affected community to have only a ‘limited ability to participate’ in the Commission’s (or the Tribunal’s) inquiry into a proposal for approval of premises for gaming. Less still is there any foundation for the proposition that the responsible authority is to be the sole conduit between the community and the Commission/Tribunal in the decision-making process."
I lost.

The Tribunal member found that the only avenue of review was to go to the Supreme Court. This avenue would involve enormous cost. It is ironic that the ABC reported only 2 days after my hearing that Justice Kevin Bell stated:
"the tribunal, although welcome, is not as easy as it could be to access"
My loss was in failing to access the review powers of this Tribunal.

The result of VCAT declining to review the bad decision of the Gambling Commission is not only a failure of the system to base judgements on correct facts; that's just legal stuff. Maybe inconsequential.

The result, in my view, is that City of Ballarat will now bear more losses from pokie gambling.

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