Action needed on alcohol and gambling

In a state election campaign in which the lack of policy differentiation between the two major parties is matched only by the intensity of voter boredom, or disengagement, there are two significant social issues on which, if the parties could break the stranglehold of industry lobby groups, some real policy alternatives could emerge, and some real potential good might be delivered to struggling and hurting people in NSW.

One issue is alcohol-related violence and sensible measures to reduce it. The NSW Council of Churches supports the NSW Police Association’s Last Drinks campaign, calling for earlier pub closing times, lock-outs, and restrictions on the sale of high-alcohol content drinks late at night. The successful Newcastle trial should be rolled out in other parts of the state.

The other issue is problem gambling, and sensible measures to curb the scourge of poker machine addiction. The Productivity Commission estimates that 40 per cent of club industry revenue comes from problem gamblers.

There are several reforms that will help, including setting bet limits, reducing prize money, and placing a limit on ATM withdrawals at club venues.

Neither Labor nor the Coalition has shown interest in these reforms. Remember that when you cast your vote on Saturday.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 20 March 2011.

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