Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Beach Hotel's Application Should Fail

Here's the submission made by Jeremy Ham on behalf of the people who joined the Don't Poke Jan Juc Facebook page. You are encouraged to comment. All comments that are posted with the author's name and address will be printed and I will personally submit them the Surf Coast Shire. Put another way, I am happy to allow people to continue post anonymously on this blog but if you would like your views known to Surf Coast Shire Council, we need to know who you are. Of course, you can always write directly to the Surf Coast Shire. So here it is:

Submission to Surf Coast Shire

To Reject

Redevelopment of Bells Beach Hotel

This submission is made by Jeremy Ham on behalf of the 658 members of the “Don’t Poke Jan Juc” Facebook group.

  • The Surf Coast Shire should reject the application of the Bells Beach Hotel on the following grounds:
  • Failure to comply with objectives of the Surf Coast Shire’s Gaming Policy
  • The net economic and social impact of the introduction of 30 pokie gambling machines into Jan Juc will be detrimental to the well-being of that community
  • Failure to comply with the objectives of the Gambling Regulation Act as set out in section 1.1 (2)
  • Scale of the development that is inappropriate for the Jan Juc area
  • The proposal requires concessions on car parking. Following the first stage of the redevelopment of the Beach Hotel, there is evidence of a car parking shortfall at the Jan Juc community centre in peak periods. The demand from the proposed additions will further impact this situation. Full carparking to council requirements should be provided, with no concessions.
  • Additional drinking and gambling areas proposed in the functions rooms and sports bar do not contribute to the wellbeing of the Jan Juc community.

Pokie gambling is a harmful form of adult entertainment that is otherwise illegal unless licensed and operated pursuant to relevant legislation.

Failure to comply with objectives of the Surf Coast Shire’s Gaming Policy

There is no pokie gambling presently located in the Jan Juc community. This proposal will introduce access to pokie gambling in this community.

The proposed central location of pokie gambling in the Jan Juc shopping area:

  • is adjacent to and integrated with shops, key community facilities and the Jan Juc foreshore activity area.
  • provides the Jan Juc community optimal access to pokie gambling

The location of pokies at this venue both facilitates and encourages convenience gambling.

Please refer to Clause 52.28 of the Planning Scheme prohibiting the location of pokie gambling in shopping areas.

Recent information released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation reveals that 4 out of the top 5 highest gambling loss venues are located in or immediately adjacent to shopping.

The Productivity Commission 2009 draft report found that “there is a link between accessibility and gambling harms”. It also observed:

“Had there been full knowledge at the time about the harmful effects of substantially increasing accessibility to gaming machines in the 1990s, a different model of liberalisation — centred on destination, rather than community-wide, gambling — may have been seen as appropriate.”

The location of the proposed pokie machines is not centred on destination e.g. the Torquay Golf Club but rather on community wide access.

The net economic and social impact of the introduction of 30 pokie gambling machines into Jan Juc will be detrimental to the well-being of that community

Having regard to the decisions of both the Victorian Supreme Court and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in the matter of the Romsey Hotel; this application fails to satisfy the test for suitability for pokie gambling as set out in Section 3.3.7 (1) of the Gambling Regulation Act.

In this regard, Council should consider the nature of the Jan Juc community and then the impact of the introduction of pokie gambling on the community.

The community to be considered should not be defined by the existing patronage of the applicant’s venue nor the patronage the venue aspires to. The words of Section 3.3.7 (1)(c) require consideration only of “the community of the municipal district in which the premises are located”. That community is Jan Juc; not even Torquay.

Jan Juc is a suburban residential community devoid of commercial enterprise other than a caravan park on the edge of the community and the few shops and offices where the proposed pokies are to be located. It is a quiet family suburb near Australia’s best know surf beach. Other than car parking, there is no development at either Bells beach or Jan Juc beach. There are no franchised fast food or retail outlets.

Reflecting the quiet nature of the Jan Juc, most roads have speed bumps. There are parklands that run through the suburb with walking paths. There are few paved footpaths, and the proposed introuduction of footpaths has resulted in an overwhelming community response. This is another indication of the feelings of the Jan Juc community in relation to development.

Based upon the 2006 census, 3,158 people lived in Jan Juc. 53.3% were couples with children. 32.6% were couple without children. 43% of the population were aged less than 30.

The perceived advantages of introducing pokie gambling into Jan Juc are:

  1. Provision of an adult form of entertainment
  2. Increased employment
  3. Enlargement of the eating areas, bar and the addition of two function rooms.
  4. Addition of 8 motel units.
  5. Donations to local causes

Unlike the Romsey matter, there is already a functioning restaurant at the Beach Hotel. The enlargement of this facility will not involve significant additional employment. Unemployment in Surf Coast Shire is presently well below state averages.

The conclusions of the 2008 study undertaken for the Tasmanian Treasury Department provide helpful guidance. It referred to a prior finding that venues with gambling facilities employed an average of 3.2 persons per $1 million in gambling income. The number may be lower at The Beach depending upon operating hours and dual use of existing bar staff.

The same study concluded that “claims that the gambling industry has significantly contributed to economic growth in the aggregate economy is not substantiated.” It also found that “there is no clear relationship between local (intrastate) tourism and overall gambling expenditure”.

The applicant has indicated that the revenue from the pokies is essential for the construction and operation of motel units at the hotel. It is submitted that the introduction of motel units should be rejected under any circumstances. This matter is detailed below.

Utilisation of this site for motel units is contrary to the character of Jan Juc and would alter the nature of this bedroom community. It is an inappropriate use of this land. The family character of this suburb is inconsistent with the character of a tourist population. Demand for motel accommodation is already catered for in Torquay.

The amount reported to be donated to local causes is trivial compared to reported per machine pokie losses at other Surf Coast venues. It is not clear whether such donations will be by way of good or services ‘in-kind’ or in cash.

The disadvantages of introducing pokie gambling into Jan Juc are:

  1. Significant harm caused by pokie gambling to regular gamblers.
  2. Adverse effect on other like businesses. Increase in pokie entertainment expenditure leads to a decrease in other entertainment expenditure
  3. An increase in income generating crime. The Tasmanian study concluded: “A positive and significant relationship was found between gaming expenditure and some crime rates, particularly “income generating crimes”
  4. A decline in the happiness, contentment or sense of well being in the community

The FaceBook group and survey

In November 2009, the FaceBook site “Don’t Poke Jan Juc” ( was set up to guage community feelings about the development and to provide information relating to Poker Machines and this proposal. As of 4th March 2010, the group has grown to 658 members. Many of these members are locals of Jan Juc and Torquay. Following this, the Beach hotel set up a FaceBook group “I Support the Beach Hotel Jan Juc development plans” with 131 members as of 4th March 2010.

During the period 15th February to 4th March 2010, an online survey was set up to further guage community feelings about the proposed development. This survey ( was linked to the FaceBook site and an Echo article relating to the pokies proposal. Thus, the survey was made available to all community members with an internet connection.

During this time, 93 people completed the survey. In summary, this survey provided the following insights:

  • 55% of respondents live in Jan Juc
  • 16.9% of respondents live in Torquay
  • 95.5% of Jan Juc resident respondents rate their sense of wellbeing as “high” or “ very high”
  • 88% of Jan Juc resident respondents think that their sense of wellbeing would decrease or greatly decrease if there is a decision to approve the installation of 30 gaming machines at the Beach Hotel in the Jan Juc shopping centre
  • 65% of Jan Juc resident respondents think that their sense of wellbeing would decrease or greatly decrease if there is a decision to approve the additional sports bar, function rooms and hotel suites at the Beach Hotel in the Jan Juc shopping centre
  • 82% of respondents stated an objection to the proposal. In addition, 9% of respondents provided comments objecting to aspects of the proposal.
  • 975 of respondents believe the introduction of gaming machines at the Beach Hotel will have a negative impact on the social character of Jan Juc

In addition, the survey provided the forum for open ended text comments relating to the proposal. These comments provide a valuable insight into the feelings of people in the community. The overwhelming tone of comments is negative, and serves as a genuine expression of the impact of the introduction of poker machines on the community.

The set up of this blog does not make it possible to reproduce the Appendix attached. If you would like a copy, please email me at and I will send you a copy.

Failure to comply with the objectives of the Gambling Regulation Act as set out in section 1.1 (2)

While other provisions of this section should be taken into account, particular regard should be given to the recently added subsection that provides that one of the main objectives of the legislation is:

“to ensure that minors are neither encouraged to gamble nor allowed to do so”

This objective is clarified by the joint statement of the federal and all state gaming ministers by setting out national principles for the conduct of responsible gaming machine activity in clubs and hotels. The first principle states:

“Minors should not be allowed to gamble or be exposed to gambling areas within venues”

Here is a link to that joint statement:

The applicant’s plans should be rejected as children eating in this venue will be exposed to the gambling areas and as a result encouraged to gamble.

In addition to the legislation and government policy statements, studies undertaken by both the Queensland state government and the Nova Scotia provincial government refer to normalisation of gambling as a result of exposure. Such normalisation has been found to lead to a greater prevalence of problem gambling in later years. Put simply, the behaviour of parents and other adults shapes the future behaviour of children.

The plans show the restaurant to be as close as possible to the pokie gambling area. While the plans do show a solid wall, they also show an open bar between the two areas and a double door. At the very best case, children in the restaurant will be exposed every time the doors open and shut. At worst, they will be left open or constructed from glass. It is speculation whether the applicant intends to have a sign over the pokie room door promoting the location of the pokies.

Furthermore, if a family function is being held in Function 1, then people using the toilets may also be exposed to the pokie room. Adult traffic through Function 1 is likely as there is no smoking lounge self-contained within the pokie area. The closest adjoins Function 1. Alternatively, smokers would walk through the restaurant to gain access to a smoking area. These plans are undesirable in the interests of public health.

We urge the council to reject this application based on the case outlined in this submission.

Jeremy Ham


Anonymous said...

One would imagine, that the scenario will play out something like this...Council reject the application (seen to be doing something)

The applicants lodge appeal in VCAT 30 days from the decision.
VCAT grant the application, (Pro Development)

End of Story..Happy Days!

Anonymous said...

That is one possible scenario, but another may be that;
Mr. Bendat convinces Daddy to buy the premises with 0.000002% of the spoils from the profits & sale of the only gaming venue in all of WA, and he and Jezza level the entire site and construct billboards with their pictures and the slogan;
"We kept jobs and investment,
From our neighborhood,
There will be no accommodation or parties,
All because of Burswood"!

Victor said...

Mr Jeremy Ham,
Can I take this opportunity to thank you for your efforts.
I feel I am part of the silent majority who is in total agreement with your statements and arguments presented. Poker machines and this particular development plan are inappropriate for Jan Juc.
Victor Eke (resident Princes Terrace)