Saturday, 14 January 2012

Castlemaine's Eloquent Message

The Victorian Gambling Commission's hearing of the pokie application of the Maryborough Highland Society application to force 65 pokies into Castlemaine is now over. At the end of the evidence, the EPIC group (Enough Pokies In Castlemaine) presented a video that eloquently describes this beautiful community and how pokies would change Castlemaine, for the worse. Here it is. Have a look.


EPIC's presentation of witnesses included a psychiatrist describing the damage suffered by the addicted. A leader of the Sudanese community told how his people suffered from gambling on these dangerous machines. A descendant of early settlers of Castlemaine tearfully described how his gambling had resulted in the loss of business and the break-up of his family. After a lifetime of damage, he admitted to just given up the pokies 14 weeks ago.

EPIC's plea to the Commission was both brief and powerful. It was sincere and real.

Compare this to Victorian gambling minster Michael O'Brien's reported statement about this weekend's meeting between the Prime Minister and Andrew Wilkie to seriously discuss the details of pokie reform in the light of 
  • 11 years of study by the Productivity Commission,
  • the Commission's evidence based solutions and
  • the findings of the Joint Senate Committee on Gambling:
Here's Mr O'Brien's reported words;
"... Victorian Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien yesterday labelled the meeting a "talkfest" and claimed Ms Gillard had no mandate for her reforms.
Describing them as "arrogant", he said they would conflict with the gaming policies of the Victorian government
"The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation has been created with a record budget to begin operation this year and we will apply a ban on ATMs in all gaming venues," he said.
"In addition, we've taken pre-emptive action to prohibit isolation audio technology on poker machines and ban cash devices which might be used to sidestep the ATM ban."

Mr O'Brien "Designed To Fail" policies do not just lack evidentiary support, his scheme of voluntary pre-commitment runs contrary to the results of four independent government sponsored studies. The 7.30 Report broadcast yesterday reported anger at Nova Scotia government's decision to keep pre-commitment voluntary. This is exactly what Minister O'Brien proposes. The broadcast concluded with a statement from a former problem gambler about voluntary pre-commitment (Mr O'Brien's scheme);
"The cards have been out for well over a year as well as the machines set up to use them. I haven't seen a gambler yet use one. They don't."
Furthermore, Mr O'Brien's spruicked foundation largely replicates the existing gambling advocate (whose recommendations he ignores), his spruicked ban on ATMs was rejected by the Productivity Commission as being ineffective and his spruicked prohibition of the audio technology relates to a pokie machine add-on that does not even exist in Victoria.

Victoria has the highest prevalence of problem gambling of any Australian state. Good people are pleading with government agencies to stop the flood of pokies.  Minister O'Brien and the Ballieu government's actions and words show a terrifying and continuing contempt of the interests of the people of Victoria with respect to the harm caused by pokie gambling.

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