beautiful one day… drunk and broke the next

The following is a media release that was issued today by the Queensland government. It is a joint statement from the premier, Campbell Newman, and the attorney-general, Jarrod Bleijie.

I have interspersed my comments throughout.

This is a dark day for the sunshine state.

Expert panel to reduce gaming red tape
Thursday, September 20, 2012

Premier Campbell Newman has today announced the appointment of an expert panel to address the overload of red tape strangling the liquor and gaming industry.

Mr Newman said appointing the panel was part of the Government’s Six Month Action Plan and members would play a key role in cutting regulatory burden on business.

Warning bell number one. This initiative is all about making life easier for business, which translates to less regulation of the two industries that have the most potential to cause harm.

“At the recent DestinationQ forum, industry made it clear that new initiatives were needed to build Queensland tourism to help get the economy back on track,” Mr Newman said.

“Liquor and gaming is the lifeblood of the tourism industry but has long been ignored by the Labor Government and our economy has suffered.

Sure, forget the sun, the beaches, the outback… forget all the natural wonder Queensland has going for it. It’s booze and pokies that makes the world go around. It’s scary that Newman sees this as a “new” initiative.

“We have made sure this panel gives key players a chance to finally weigh in on discussions about the major issues affecting the industry.

“Key players…” remember that phrase when we get to the list of people on the panel. It’s decidedly top-heavy, industry-wise.

“Liquor and gaming has been held back by red tape and regulation which burned time and money for no real benefit.

Excuse me? Gambling revenue in Queensland has been increasing year in, year out. The state has more poker machines than any other except NSW. And that “red tape and regulation” is often the only thing keeping the industry in check… again, important when we’re talking about potentially addictive and destructive products like these.

“This review is good news for industry and shows we are committed to reducing waste, cutting costs and making life easier for business.”

Great news for the industry. Terrible news for everyone else.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said a number of changes had already been identified which would allow business to get on with the job.

“We have scrapped employee gaming licences which were in place to prevent people interfering with games,” Mr Bleijie said.

Think about that. Employees in gaming rooms no longer need licences, which means they no longer need training. And “interfering with games”? No. The training and licensing requirements for gaming employees focus on the responsible provision of gambling… but that’s gone now. Another layer of protection for the gambler, stripped away.

“Ignoring advances in gaming technology, the Labor Government expected employees to hold a licence and renew it every five years for $215, which is just ludicrous.

This statement makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Advancements in technology have nothing to do with the licensing requirement. This is all about ensuring that venues can hire anyone, for minimal cost and with zero training, to sit in a gaming room and smile at the gamblers.

“The Liquor and Gaming Commission will also be replaced by a Commissioner which will speed up the process and eliminate unnecessary costs and duplications.

Words fail me… the Commission is going to be replaced by a single person, who will make all of the regulatory decisions regarding liquor and gambling? Wow. Just wow. Can’t wait to see which of Newman’s old buddies gets this plum role.

“Liquor and gaming licence applications will no longer need to be advertised in the Government Gazette and local newspapers, saving businesses up to $1,500.

And also saving businesses from the need to inform local communities of their intentions. Which of course means that the people will be the last to know, and too late.

“These changes are about easing the cost burden on our pubs and clubs, while also maintaining a high level of integrity and accountability within the industry.”

Sure, because it’s pubs and clubs that are doing it tough while we, the people, are rolling in opulence. Pull the other one. And you can forget about industry integrity and accountability… that’s being stripped away too.

Other proposed changes include:
• The removal of a requirement for clubs to report changes to the board within a week
Less accountability.
• The introduction of cashless ticket-in, ticket-out technology on gaming machines
Higher re-investment of winnings. Industry figures show that TITO technology results in a massive increase in the amount money gamblers put back into machines.
• The removal of the renewal requirement for clubs and hotel gaming machine licences, saving $435 per applicant.
This is a beauty. “Removal of the renewal requirement” means that once a venue has a gaming licence, it’s for ever. No reassessment, no audit, no due diligence. This plan is an industry dream come true.

Panel members include:

Geoff Harley (Chair) – Consultant, Clayton Utz Lawyers, Brisbane
David Ford – Department of Justice and Attorney General
Paul Martyn – Tourism Division, Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and Commonwealth Games
Linda Woo – Office of Regulatory Policy, Department of Justice and Attorney-General
Mike Sarquis – Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, Department of Justice and Attorney-General
Daniel Gschwind – Queensland Tourism Industry Council
TBA – Local Government Association of Queensland
Justin O’Connor – Queensland Hotels Association
Doug Flockhart – Clubs Queensland
John Hart – Restaurant and Catering Industry Association
Sarosh Mehta – Cabarets Queensland
Bill Darby – Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd Advisory Panel
Derek Tuffield – Lifeline Darling Downs and South West Qld
Gambling Help – Toowoomba South-West
Colette McCool – Social Planning and Development Branch, Gold Coast City Council
Commissioner or representative – Queensland Police Service
Angela Driscoll – Gold Coast Chill Out Zone
TBA – Australasian Casino Association

Take a good look at the list above. Apart from two, maybe three people or positions, it’s comprised of people who have a vested interest in boosting expenditure on alcohol and poker machines.

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Campbell Newman has spoken before of his admiration and respect for the clubs industry in Queensland. It’s clear that he wants the state to run like a leagues club, with jobs for the boys and poker machines in every corner.

I can only hope that the rest of the country pays attention to the carnage he’s about to wreak on the state foolish enough to elect him… but I fear for the lives that his myopic blundering will tear apart. This will not end well.

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4 Responses

  1. Cathy says:

    On one level I am appalled but on another it doesn’t really surprise me. The other day I saw the following which I understood to be related to Queensland. I wondered what it meant by “The Government will implement a range of regulatory reform proposals that will reduce the regulatory burden on the gaming and liquor industries, which will assist in offsetting the financial impact of these revenue measures.” It seems pretty clear what is driving this and they don’t give a stuff about who they hurt in the process of raising this revenue http://www.acats.com.au/blog/increase-gaming-machine-tax-hit-most-clubs-operating-180-or-more-machines

    This was also interesting http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2012/s3594693.htm

  2. alice says:

    what is he doing to my beautiful game? true, licences dont stop people interfering with games, but if youre naughty enough to lose yours then no more jobs in gaming for you, thats why they exist. renewal fees are a pitance compared to the profits gaming makes. no training? are they mental? social responsibility is key! a gambler is someone you want 50 bucks from a month forever, not someone you rinse for a few grand in a few visits then never see again. this attitude makes me bang my head on a wall in frustration. its late and im writing this tired and i dont even live in austrailia, but seriously? dumping licences should and will piss off everyone who worked hard for theirs. a gaming licence is and should remain a symbol of integrity and professionalism and transparency. getting rid of them is so wrong i dont even know why its wrong. and if i ever did scrape together the monies to visit austrailia, i never once thought it would be for the beer and gaming. i would visit to see epic landscapes or to watch surfers get eaten by sharks or tourists get eaten by crocs and to spend a few weeks being scared utterly shitless by everything with eight legs.

  3. fAMILYMAN says:

    Alice same here. We go to QLD every year not for poker machines but for every thing you mentioned. I was planning to go to Indians heads up the York this year which costs us quite allot in petrol and accommodation as we drive up but not any more after reading the article. Yet I suspect they won’t need our holiday monies as they will screw into the ground that many problem gamblers and their families that they will be to busy counting the blood money to miss us not visiting qld any more.

  4. Chris says:

    This action by the short sighted QLD government is another clear indication of the state of the poker machines industry as it continues into its phase of maturation.

    In Victoria, government led changes to the industry were based on admissions by the Brumby government back in 2008 (about) that the poker machine industry had entered “maturity” – that means expenditure by punters has levelled off slowing growth and reducing profits AND lowering taxes for the governments.

    Governments addicted to poker machine taxes will do anything and everything they can to prop up their tax collectors – pub and clubs

    – especially as online (un taxable?) gambling is growing at the pace it is.

    There must be dozens if not 100’s of small poker machine clubs across the country struggling to survive.

    I’ve been in some clubs where their machines are 10 -12 years old and the clubs are in no position to upgrade to new ones.

    I’ve heard of small clubs that cannot find quality caterers or cooks because they cannot afford quality food and hospitality staff and they treat their staff like shit.

    I’d love to hear of specific clubs in trouble.

    choskingau@yahoo.com

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