For immediate release – 1 May 2015
The President of the NSW Council of Churches has welcomed the Baird Government’s response to a recent Legislative Council inquiry into the impact of gambling, but says the government’s proposed reforms do not go far enough in addressing public health concerns.
Council President, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, expressed concern at the Baird government’s announcement that it would not support certain recommendations including reduced maximum bets and jackpots, and restrictions on cash availability near poker machine venues.
“We are disappointed that the government won’t even agree to review current practice, let alone make the changes recommended in the inquiry report,” Dr Clifford said.
“Gambling reform is a significant moral and social issue of concern to churches and community groups, and must not be put on the back burner in favour of seemingly more popular issues. While there is some good news in the government’s response, there is much more that should be done in the interests of public health and harm minimisation,” Dr Clifford said.
“We urge the NSW Government to apply a freeze on the transfer of entitlements between gaming venues and the creation of any new entitlements, in order to address urgent concerns regarding the concentration of poker machines in neighbourhoods and clubs where they are likely to create greater harm to local communities.
“The NSW Council of Churches thanks the Baird Government for its resolve to address public health concerns on gambling, and looks forward to swift implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations as indicated in the government response, as well as progressing other matters addressed in the gabling inquiry report.”
Dr Clifford said it was important to be clear about any alleged links between the government of the day and the gambling industry.
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Media contact Rod Benson 0412 421 678