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The HCC Community Development meeting today heard a motion relating to the impact of pokies gambling in the Hobart municipality.

The committee consisted of chairman Ald Bill Harvey, Marti Zucco, DLM Ron Christie, Helen Burnet and Sue Hickey. Also present was Ald Philip Cocker.

Ald Burnet was disappointed that the recommendation on the books was not nearly as far-reaching as a previous very similar report tabled in September.

She moved the following amendment, as she was concerned about the significant social and economic costs to the Hobart community and broader community those coming into the municipality from other suburbs to play Hobart’s 886 poker machines:

1. The February (current) report be received and noted
2. Information about the issue of gambling and the available support Services for problem gamblers be placed on the Social Issues page of the Council’s website.
3. A letter encouraging the Tasmanian Government to pursue gambling reform be sent by the Lord Mayor of Hobart to the Premier of Tasmania.
4. A letter also be sent by the Lord Mayor to the Independent Federal member for Denison, Mr Andrew Wilkie MP, the Australian Greens and the Tasmanian Greens commending their unfailing stance and leadership on gambling reform.
5. A letter be sent to the Local Government Association of Tasmania seeking further advice on the potential for a coordinated local government response to the issue.
6. Further information be sought from the relevant Tasmanian Government agencies with regard to gaps in service; effectiveness measures for problem gambling support services; and problem-gambling research undertaken in recent years.
7. The Council’s Social Inclusion Strategy Community Sector Reference Group be consulted at their next meeting to seek their views relating to problem gambling in Hobart and whether there may be other actions that could be taken by the Council to reduce the harms associated with problem gambling.
8. A further report be prepared which considers:
(1) Planning issues including
a. Reinstatement of planning controls of electronic gaming machines under the Land Use Planning Approvals Act
b. Ensuring signage compliance occurs outside electronic gaming machine venues
c. Any amendments to the planning scheme to reduce the negative impacts of advertising of electronic gaming machines, particularly in non-commercial and especially residential areas
(2) Curbing advertising in council-owned property specific to electronic gaming machines

The motion was voted down 3:2 with Ald Zucco, Christie and Hickey voting against it. The original motion to promote services only was subsequently moved by Ald Zucco and supported by Christie and Hickey.

“This is a weak position and I will be doing everything in my power to reduce the devastating impacts that pokies have with regard to family and personal breakdown, increased suicide rates and economic loss to our city, associated with these insidious machines”, she concluded.

• Earlier on Tasmanian Times: Time for local leadership to tackle gambling woes