The mayors of five major Victorian councils “at the coal face” of dealing with problem gambling are joining an alliance calling for pokie reform ahead of the state election.
Mayors from Moreland, Whittlesea, Darebin, Wyndham and Yarra will join with The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Tim Costello on Tuesday to launch the group’s 2018 election platform on the steps of state parliament.
“Councils such as Moreland, Darebin, Whittlesea, Yarra and Wyndham are at the coal face of gambling harm and I sincerely welcome the commitment of their mayors to the cause of fixing this blight on Australian society,” Mr Costello said in a statement.
He accused successive Victorian Governments of being intimidated by a “ruthless industry” and becoming reliant on the “easy money of gambling taxes” at the expense of families.
“A record 18 Victorian councils have signed up to financially support The Alliance in 2018-19, up from 12 in 2016-17, and we are all committed to ensuring the next election delivers real reform.”
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says more needs to be done to improve the anti-gambling message, so people know what the risks are and realise what the likelihood is of winning, “as limited as it is”.
“I don’t think banning is the option, but I do think people deserve to be told the truth on these matters,” Mr Guy told reporters outside parliament.
Moreland mayor John Kavanagh said “enough is enough” as he called on the state parliament to commit to $1 maximum bets and reducing venue operating hours, describing the issue as a “crisis”.
“Our councils are dealing with the dire consequences of pokies. As community leaders, we are standing together to make sure pokies reform is a key state election issue,” Mr Kavanagh said.
Mr Guy said he did not want to make policy on the run, when asked about $1 maximum bets, but said there was room to “firm up” some measures which could help.
Clubs also needed to make a “commercial decision” about pokies on their premises and advise patrons of the risks, he said.