Letters to the editor | November 11, 2017

Pokies and small business

THE article (The Examiner, November 1) exposing the social evils of retaining pokies in pubs and clubs is applauded. Those evils extend to Tasmania's small businesses.

In his recent clinical analysis of the impact on Tasmania of the Federal Group's monopoly on Tasmanian gaming, James Boyce in his book Losing Streak quotes from a 2008 report by the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, commissioned by the Tasmanian Government as one of three-yearly studies under the Gaming Control Act.

That study found a 'long-run statistically significant negative relationship between gambling and business investment', then using the tourism industry as an example, said 'the current arrangements have the potential to crowd out other forms of private sector investment', and that there was 'no clear net benefit to the state in terms of tourism promotion'.

Boyce says that the study showed that 'discretionary spending' (money we spend on little luxuries like coffee, restaurant meals, kids' toys etc) is limited by spending on pokies, and impacts on employment within the small business sector.

In the face of such unequivocal evidence of the damage to Tasmanian business (quite apart from well-documented negative social impacts), it is hard to understand objections to the removal of pokies from pubs and clubs by the very industry the report identified as being worst impacted by their presence - the hospitality industry.

The Liberals say they will remove 150 machines at the time of renewal of the state gaming monopoly in 2023, which is at best a weak response to the strength of evidence against the presence of any pokies beyond casinos, while the ALP remains silent on an issue about which more than 80 per cent of Tasmanians have expressed concern.

It is time for some strong political action to open the gaming monopoly to tender, and to remove pokies from pubs and clubs, allowing other small business sectors to grow from money which would otherwise be sucked out of the state.

Bruce Lindsay, Longford.

Work for the Dole

I resent the suggestion that the work for the dole scheme should be used to provide labour for the North-East railway. Work for the dole is a form of conscription. 

If work is available then people should be properly employed, even if subsidised. Neither should volunteers be expected to work on a public asset.

Volunteers can be paid in kind, with free meals, work gear and transport, and free train rides for ever after, but volunteering doesn't pay the rent.

When one considers the hundreds of millions that the government spends on roads, the amount needed to rehabilitate the rail line, and those who will be working on it, is a fraction of a per cent.

The government does not want to make a decision on this project. Another report is another excuse, and another six months of good weather wasted.

A works program could give a lot of young people the chance to learn skills, keep fit, and have the opportunity to go further. 

This project would be one of the few ground-level entries to permanent employment available for youth.

A narrow-minded fixation on economics is socially destructive.

Peter Needham, Bothwell.

Illegal Drugs

LEON Cooper (The Examiner, November 5) uses the words “recreational drugs” in his letter stating “if they were legalised police could spend more time catching criminals”.

Recreational drugs are illegal drugs (which you alluded to when asking they be legalised), ergo those who use or sell them are criminals. 

Leave our wonderful police to do the job their way.

F. O’Sullivan, Riverside.

Tasmanian Prisons

I DO not agree with lawyer Greg Barns that prisoners locked up in southern Tasmania are so hard done by. It costs taxpayers millions of dollars yearly to imprison criminals and lawbreakers of our society.

Mr Barns thinks we should treat them like backpackers. Air-conditioned cells, TV, three nutritious meals a day warm bed and clothes, they have broken the law what else do they expect. As a volunteer at City Mission I witness law abiding citizens’ who do not have a warm bed or regular meals.

I agree with Treasurer Peter Gutwein it is not a resort and due to the number of crimes being committed a little overcrowded. So what? To avoid these quoted unsavoury conditions, don’t break the law. Jail is supposed to be a deterrent and to get there, you have done something seriously wrong.

Peter Doddy, Trevallyn.

Survey prediction

I WOULD like to go out on a limb and predict the result of the same-sex marriage survey. I predict a ration of 4 million yes to 8 million no. Australians are conservative at heart, they say one thing in opinion polls and do something different when voting. Only eight of 48 referenda to change the Consititution have been successful.

The high percentage of returns in the ballot, tell us that some politicians were wrong and that the people wanted to have their say on this important issue.

No matter which side is successful, I hope the decision will be definite and I think it will be and that both sides will have the grace to accept the result.

Malcolm Scott, Newstead.

Legislative Council Members

THE sooner the Legislative Council members become 100 per cent independent the better it will be in representation and decision making. There should be absolutely no political party aligned candidates contesting elections, just good old fashioned decision making based solely on merit of legislation from representatives not influenced by toeing the party line.   The upper house must be an independent voice of the people, with no exceptions.      

Robert Lee, Summerhill.