Last week, I wrote about Steve Greenwood. He was the manager of the Romsey Hotel when the hotel’s owner, Jim Hogan, was trying to put pokies in his pub, much to the dismay of the residents of Romsey.
Steve is now managing the Victoria Hotel in Port Fairy, and has been quite definite is stating that they would not have pokies as long as he was associated with the place. The hotel’s owner, Graeme Rodger, echoed this sentiment.
Well, the people of Port Fairy may have been pleased to hear this, but they want to make sure that no other potential poker machine operators try and move in to Moyne Shire. Moyne is completely pokie-free, and they intend to keep it that way.
A rally was held on the weekend, organised by local Es Warmuth, to make their opposition to poker machines unmistakably clear. And with more than 200 protestors attending the rally, along with local independent Wannon candidates James Purcell and Ralph Leutton, I think they may have got their message through.
All too often, developers and hotel owners have decided to bring poker machines into areas that don’t need them (well, nobody needs pokies!) or want them. And the bureaucratic process seems to be designed in favour of the pokies, with the VCGR and VCAT repeatedly overruling local council decisions to keep the machines out. Jan Juc is another coastal town in Victoria currently fighting to stay pokie-free, and no thanks to their local council, they may still achieve that goal.
The kind of message that the residents of Port Fairy have sent out will hopefully make it clear that pokies will never be welcome in their shire. And, just maybe, it will inspire other communities to take a similar stand. Port Fairy is a beautiful place, and the introduction of poker machines would change the dynamic of the town forever. Let’s hope that never happens.