The world is full of addictive substances and activities. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling…even eating and exercise can be addictive and dangerous if taken to extremes.
Yet the vast majority of people manage to go through life without the ‘spiralling mental health issues’ Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam says is impacting gamblers addicted to pokie machines.
The Victorian Greens want pokie machines gone from pubs and clubs across the state in 10 years.
Ratnam announced the policy on Wednesday, saying the machines were destroying lives.
‘Refusing to take action against pokies is costing lives,’ she said.
‘The harm they cause forces people into debt, ruins relationships and results in spiralling mental health issues.’
Under the plan, the 20-year licence extension would be repealed, a one-off licence would run from 2022 until 2028 and then there would be no new licences issued.
Ms Ratnam said councils would have power to decide whether to grant new licences to pokies operators in their areas or remove them from 2022 altogether.
The party would also introduce a $200 million compensation fund that would provide business advice and grants for clubs to provide services like gyms and music nights, as well as financial incentives for venues that voluntarily cancel licences before 2028.
But the Greens also planned to introduce $1 bets and $20 load limits in a bid to limit harm.
Premier Daniel Andrews defended the pokies.
‘Electronic gaming is a perfectly legitimate form of recreational activity, save for a small percentage of the community who have a gambling problem,’ he said on Wednesday.
‘We are providing support and assistance for those small number of Victorians in absolute record terms and we’re proud to continue to do that.’
Mr Andrews added he would not be doing any deal with Greens before the 24 November state election.
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The Australian Tribune with AAP