Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Suicide Barriers on the Westgate

After years of promising action, suicide barriers are finally being erected on the Westgate Bridge linking Melbourne and its western suburbs as a part of a reported $1.4 billion upgrade. It is deeply sad that people act to end their lives in this way. The evidence linking so many Victorian to thoughts of suicide makes obscene those who argue so vehemently against measures that reduce the harm of gambling on the pokies.Readers may recall the Herald Sun story where it was revealed that about 12,000 Victorians pokie gamblers contemplate suicide. This is based upon a huge Victorian state study with 15,000 participants. Yet the Victorian government fails even to adopt the smallest of steps to full pre-commitment as recommended after 11 years of study by the Productivity Commission.

These suicide barriers symbolise the obscenity that seems Victoria's pokie policy. Do nothing that will even stem the flow of pokie gambling losses. Let not even the most damaging evidence of harm to Victorians get in your way.

About $20 million will be spent on lights on the Westgate's poles and cables. Imagine what the benefits would be if the same $20 million were spent on software that limited each pokie bet to no more than $1 and limited the volatility of pokies so that gamblers could lose no more than $120 per hour.

I do not know how these people are able to sleep at night. I am reminded of their terrifying contempt for the good of Victorians every time I drive over the Westgate.

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