MP slams gambling benefit fund blood money
QUEENSLAND'S Gambling Community Benefit Fund grants are blood money that don't justify peoples' every spare dollar going through the dogs, horses and pokies, Fisher MP Andrew Wallace has declared.
Mr Wallace, a staunch opponent of gambling in all its forms, said it didn't make it OK that a surf club could received $5000 for a new boat motor.
"I have a standing rule regarding people contacting my office for a reference for a Gambling Community Benefit Fund applications," he said.
"I will not do it."
His concern was that the damage done to individuals could not be justified by money given back to community groups and has spoken out in the wake of a series of allegations raised in parliament this week about illegal practices in Australian casinos.
Mr Wallace now chairs the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs.
He said he had raised the possibility of a number of inquiries in relation to gambling at the committee's first meeting this week.
"Parliament passed laws 12 months ago to prohibit live sports gambling but gambling advertising on State of Origin night continued right up until the whistle was blown," Mr Wallace said.
"Kids watch the pre-game entertainment that is full of these ads.
"There is so much more we can do to break the nexus between sport and gambling.
"State governments are addicted to gambling revenue."
Former chair of the Queensland Gambling Community Benefit Fund, Ashley Robinson, said he took offence at Mr Wallace's description of its grants as blood money.
"I was there four years," Mr Robinson said.
"It's a great initiative that helps people and groups you never hear about."
Mr Robinson said the fund put $13.5 million into the community every quarter.
However Dr Charles Livingstone, who head's the gambling and social determinants unit inside Monash University's School of Public Health and Medicine, agrees with Mr Wallace's description.
He said the grants could not compensate for the damage done pointing to examples of predatory behaviour uncovered about some of Australia's largest alcohol retailers.
Dr Livingstone said there was irresponsible practices and problematic gambling in many places where poker machines were available.
He said the revenue generated, donations to political parties and the revolving door of Members of Parliament going from their political careers to positions with Wagering Australia and the Crown Resorts board had to stop.
Dr Livingstone said a failure of controlling regulation was guaranteed where there was a lack of resources and effective legislation.
"The responsible gambling model expectation doesn't work and won't change without a better-resourced regulator," he said.
"State governments need to regulate properly. They can have decent revenue without exploitation and create a sustainable industry.
"We need federal and state Independent Commissions Against Corruption with teeth, with the power of Standing Royal Commissions.
"There needs to be reform of donation laws prohibiting classes of donors including gambling, alcohol and developers and to stop the revolving door of political influence."
And he would like to see a parliamentary Friends of Gambling Reform established.
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Meanwhile, Queenslanders are being urged to give their gambling a "health check" during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday.
Held annually, the week promotes safe gambling strategies, including tips to gambling more responsibly and to reduce the likelihood of risky behaviour developing.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath said while many people gambled socially without issues, some unfortunately did experience harm from gambling.
For more information on the help and support that is available, visit www.gamblinghelpqld.org.au or call 1800 858 858.