Nick Xenophon’s inspiring 21.5% statewide upper house vote in the recent South Australian election has got a few people thinking about the prospect of importing the phenomenon of a “no pokies” political campaign to Victoria.

As someone who hates the pokies, I’m contemplating having a red hot go at them as a candidate in this year’s state election on 25 November. To that end, a vehemently anti-gambling four-page submission will be lobbed before today’s 5pm deadline for the Gambling Licences Review.

Victoria has the richest racing industry in the world, partly because the Kennett Government gifted it 25% of Tabcorp’s duopoly pokies licence as part of a compromise before the 1994 float. Tabcorp and fellow duopolist Tattersall’s only have their licences until 2012, and that’s why the government is conducting this review, the results of which will be announced in 2007 – after the election. However, the government has stipulated that there will be no change to machine numbers or problem gambling policies, which are summarised here.

The internet makes submissions so much easier these days. The Bracks Government will no doubt announce how many submissions they receive, so how about a solid deployment of the 35,000 Crikey Army to boost their numbers.

Email the following message to [email protected] and you’ll be contributing to policy formulation in Australia’s most cerebral state, albeit one with an estimated 100,000 citizens who all-too-often stare blankly into these mind-numbing machines:

What sort of review doesn’t consider problem gambling and the number of poker machines? Victoria’s 30,000 machines is way too many when you understand that $2.4 billion a year is lost by punters and 84% of problems gamblers cite the pokies as their main vice.

For goodness sake, get them out of pubs, reduce the total number to about 10,000, force venues to close from midnight to midday and introduce WA-style machines that minimise losses by requiring players to stop and think.

What sort of civilised society can gloat about having the lowest smoking rate in the world – 17% and falling – and simultaneously suffer the highest per capita gambling losses. Retaining 30,000 machines when the Tabcorp and Tattersall’s licences expire in 2012 is not tackling an insidious sin industry that is estimated to cause 1 suicide a week in Victoria.

Russia had a massive increase in the distribution of Vodka under Tsar Nicholas II because he enjoyed the tax revenue, yet big-drinking Russians are still paying the price today. Surely Victoria in 2006 is rich enough to not deluge misery on an estimated 2.3% of its pokies-addicted citizens just because the government likes collecting 24.2% of their losses in taxes, plus a $1,533 annual levy on all machines.

Member of the Crikey Army

A couple of thousand of them might cause a bit of a shock. Of course, everyone is welcome to design their own missive, and please feel free to CC me in: [email protected]

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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