A time to be brave

Michelle Wisbey 2017, Blog, Gambling, Uncategorized

All communities have common interests, common goals to ensure their patch, and its people, flourish.

What the Tasmanian community want is a future free of poker machines.

They don’t want to see them when they walk down the street, when they do their shopping, or when they take their kids to school.

Now, it’s time to be brave.

Last week, Tasmanians discovered that the Labor Party plans to remove all poker machines from pubs and clubs if they are elected in March.

This puts them alongside the Greens, who have taken a long-time position against pokies, and a new policy from the Jacqui Lambie Network calling for the removal of poker machines from pubs and clubs.

On Friday, former Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie, who is running candidates in three electorates and is a well-known and proud advocate for the state’s North-West, revealed she wants pokies confined to casinos.

“When those contracts finish it’s all over in those pubs and clubs,” Ms Lambie told ABC Hobart.

From its grassroots beginnings to a political issue at the forefront of many minds, it’s exciting to see momentum gaining on the issue of poker machine reform.

The voice of the Tasmanian majority is being heard and many of our political representatives are listening to the groundswell of support for confining poker machines to casinos.

The Tasmanian community has stepped up and called for action.

Economic modelling has shown that jobs will be created and businesses boosted by removing pokies from local suburbs.

Jobs people once held in poker machine venues would be transferred into other ventures, pushed along by Tasmania’s tourism boom and a boosted economy as money once spent on pokies is dispersed into communities.

When we take a look at 2016, there were 1.24 million visitors to Tasmania, and it’s projected that in 2017 there will be up to 1.7 million people visiting our state.

For those with experience in the tourism and hospitality sector, employment options will continue to grow, and it will be the skilled workers best placed to secure a job.

Poker machines are purpose built to addict the people who use them and we know that they are very good at this – in fact one in six people who sit in front of them will become addicted.

These machines are designed to keep us coming back.

If you talk to someone with a pokies addiction, they will often tell you they never thought it would happen to them.

This insidious addiction takes hold of people before they realise it and because of the stigma and shame associated with it, it’s very hard for them to ask for help.

Poker machines are not a social activity – although a person using them may be surrounded by others, there is no interaction, let alone conversation.

Contrast that with walking into a family-friendly club where everyone is welcome, live music is on offer, or a footy match is on the TV – that is a social outing.

It is irrefutable that poker machines cause significant harm, and just like any other harmful product, we put consumer protections in place to keep communities safer.

Just as we fence pools, mandate the wearing of seatbelts and bike helmets, and restrict access and advertising of tobacco and alcohol.

Restricting access to poker machines is a reasonable measure to effectively minimise the harm they cause.

We do not become a nanny state for looking after each other.

We become a community.

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