Brighton Council votes to support pokies’ removal

BRIGHTON Council has voted to support the proposed removal of poker machines from Tasmanian hotels and clubs.

At last night’s meeting, the Council voted unanimously to support the initiative proposed by the State Labor Party, becoming the first Tasmanian council to take such a decision.Brighton Council has been a long-time opponent of the proliferation of poker machines in hotels and clubs, particularly their predominance in regional and lower socio-economic areas.

Mayor Tony Foster said it was a vote to support the policy and not party politics.

He said poker machines were a scourge on the community and Tasmania would be a much better place without them. Their removal from pubs and clubs would be a positive move that would significantly benefit the Tasmanian community and economy.

“Local Government has a responsibility to its community and Brighton Council attempted to use planning provisions to oppose the placement of poker machines in the municipality, however, this was overridden by the Government’s gaming legislation.

“Now the Labor Party is proposing to remove pokies from pubs and clubs after and as a Council, we support this,” Cr Foster said.

“Treasurer Peter Gutwein claims problem gamblers represent only 0.5 percent of the Tasmanian population, but he ignores the fact that this comes from the 10 percent of people who actually play the pokies.

“As well, for every one of those ‘problem gamblers’ seven family members or friends are directly affected. Suddenly, the numbers impacted are not so small!

“If you do the maths, 0.5 of the population equals 2,500 people multiplied by seven makes 17,500 Tasmanians directly affected by problem gambling on pokies.

“That is a significant number equal to the population of the Brighton Municipality and it cannot be ignored.

“Poker machines are rigged for the house to win and designed to addict. The result is that the profit-seeking of the small number of poker machine owners causes real harm to people including loss of homes, marriage break-ups, criminal acts of desperation, and worse.”

Cr Foster said Tasmanians now had a real opportunity to understand the harm caused by poker machines and vote to get rid of this blight on the community.

“Brighton Council exercised its community responsibility by voting to support the policy to remove poker machines from Tasmania’s hotels and clubs and we will be promoting this view widely,” he said.