Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens' Gambling spokesperson
The Greens welcome the Tasmanian Small Business Council’s policy to reduce poker machines in Tasmania. This is a unique opportunity to free the community from these parasitic machines, and for small businesses to reap the financial reward.
The Small Business Council, headed up by former Liberal candidate, Robert Mallett, can see we need a reduction in pokies. Their position, while the Greens believe relies too heavily on government assistance, would see the number of poker machines reduced from the community.
The Small Business Council’s position supports exit strategies for venues, with targeted support and a reduction of the pokies cap in Tasmania. This position is very different from the one put forward by their traditional allies, the Liberals, in the recent Parliamentary Inquiry.
Their Dissenting Report, tabled by Ms Courtney, ignored the overwhelming evidence of community harm and argued for a libertarian approach to the poker machine scourge. They claimed pokies addicts were enjoying free will and chose to lose.
Poker machines are designed to addict. They are the problem, not the people who fall prey to them.
The Liberals, still shackled to Federal Hotels and the THA, have ignored the harm these machines cause, politicizing and simplifying a serious problem within our poorest communities, while the so-called Opposition are still hedging their bets.
Tasmania needs strong decisive leaders, who aren’t afraid to make decisions in the community’s interests.
There is widespread public support for removing poker machines from pubs and clubs, with 80-85% of people polled calling for the change. The Small Business Council are the latest to recognise the harm they cause and call for fewer machines.
Past Labor and Liberal governments are responsible for the proliferation of EGMs in Tasmania’s poorest suburbs. Now is the time to break the shackles to Federal Hotels and listen to poker machine addicts, their friends and families, the community sector - and now the Tasmanian Small Business Council – and remove these parasitic machines from pubs and clubs.