Little brother’s Big Brother law dumps the local surf club
Christmas is going to be awkward at the Swans’ this year.
And it won’t be an inappropriate gift causing the tension and a possible barney.
It’ll be Labor’s mandatory pre-commitment policy for poker machines.
Under Labor’s Big Brother scheme pubs and clubs will have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars upgrading or replacing their poker machines to comply with the onerous regulations.
The problem for Treasurer Wayne Swan is that his brother Ian sits on the board of the Coolum Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and is a life member. And Ian’s wife, Sharleen, is the club’s surf sports officer.
The club has 48 poker machines so upgrading or replacing them won’t be cheap.
Clubs Australia predicts it’ll cost $720,000. That’s $720,000 that won’t be spent on surf lifesaving equipment such as rescue boats, boards and tubes.
And Ian is not happy.
“This will have a huge impact on small clubs like surf clubs. It has the potential to wreck everything,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
It’s the same story up and down the Queensland coast.
Surf clubs have been blind-sided by Labor’s latest intrusion into our lives and will struggle with the excessive installation costs of their pokie policy.
Then there’ll be the drop in revenue as recreation gamblers stop playing because being photographed, listed on a Government database and remembering to carry the card (license) they’ll be issued is too much effort for the many who simply enjoy a game after a meal.
The money made in surf clubs goes into their lifesaving efforts on the beach. So when the money stops coming into the clubs, it’s their surf lifesaving efforts that suffer.
Wayne Swan grew up as a clubbie so he knows this. When he opened Coolum’s clubhouse extensions in 2009 he said some of the best times of his life had been in surf lifesaving.
Swan also knows the vital work volunteer surf lifesavers do. For those who don’t, they saved 9,420 people last season.
So why is he supporting a policy that is going to strip funds from clubs and put beachgoers at risk?
If he sticks to the Labor script Swan will say it’s to help problem gamblers.
However the reality is Labor’s policy will do anything but that.
Who really thinks giving problem gamblers gaming cards, where they get to set their own limit, is going to stop, let alone help them?
The problem gamblers certainly don’t. They say nothing will stop them – which is why more counseling services are needed to treat the underlying issues that cause problem gambling.
“No-one can stop till they are ready,” self-confessed addict Stephen Menadue told the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform.
The experts don’t think mandatory pre-commitment will work either, some believe it may even cause problem gamblers to lose more.
“There is some evidence that pre-commitment levels will actually increase gambling for problem gamblers,” Dr Sally Gainsbury, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University, told the Committee.
Even Swan’s Labor colleagues can see straight through the policy.
“Imposing mandatory or even rapid voluntary pre-commitment on these clubs would send them broke and not do one thing about eliminating problem gambling,” said Queensland Attorney General Paul Lucas.
If Swan can’t take the advice of the addicts, experts, his colleagues, and even his brother surely he can get out his calculator and do the numbers to see how financially crippling Labor’s pokie policy is going to be for surf clubs.
After all, isn’t he supposed to be the world’s best treasurer?