Freedom of speech or the greater good?  

I’m with author James Boyce on this. All of us have busy lives and this is a complex issue bursting with claims and counter-claims, lies, damn lies and statistics! Boyce’s considered and first-hand experience of the products of gambling addiction and social consequences over many years makes for interesting reading.

On the one hand are decent people providing a service as employees in businesses built around revenues from poker machines, which exploit the simplest of human emotions – that of personal advantage and greed.

On the other, successive Governments on both sides of politics have toed the line with gambling industry barons, increasing their power and influence; while the misery and economic hardship that pokies deliver to those least able to afford the habit, proliferates. It’s like saying that ‘cigarettes are great because the suppliers give back to the community’. Where’s the moral code in that?

I see no problem with licensed casino premises where these services can be unambiguously advertised and delivered. But, to make pubs and clubs communities dependent on the dumbing-down of patrons by calling pokies ‘entertainment’ is a very poor reflection on our society. This surely is the lowest common denominator for what should be building community spirit and resilience through sport, the enjoyment of good food, genuine entertainment and real rewards coming from the service of others and not the almighty dollar.

It could be that we need to cut past leaders a bit of slack for pursuing much-needed budget income that the gambling industry gave the state back then. But Tasmania is steadily gaining in economic independence, and with that comes more choice and the freedom to make better decisions – which I hope we will.

Just like the Tasmanian coast, which is owned by the people who live around it and who must stand up for it, the wellbeing of our friends and neighbours should concern us all. When we see the sadness and failure that gambling addiction brings to families, stand up for your community and get involved!

Support the pubs and clubs which are pokie free. Vote with your feet and tell your friends.