Select Committee urged to hear from people affected by problem gambling
Auckland, 1 February 2008 – The Salvation Army is disappointed that the Government Administration Committee is apparently blocking its ears to people affected by problem gambling.
The Government Administration Committee is currently considering the Gambling Amendment Bill.
The Salvation Army’s National Manager of Addiction and Supportive Accommodation Services, Major Lynette Hutson, says that her staff have received feedback from a number of submitters who have requested to speak before the Select Committee but have been rebuffed.
‘People affected by problem gambling in Christchurch have told us that the Select Committee does not seem open to hearing from them. They have noted irregularities such as failure to acknowledge the receipt of submissions, initially not accepting submissions postmarked on the closing date, and a refusal to hear oral submissions.
‘They are concerned that the average citizen who is unable to write using legal language is being denied the right to be heard.’
Major Hutson says that people are courageous to want to speak up about the harm they have experienced, either as problem gamblers themselves or via friends and family. They have valuable first-hand knowledge of the personal and social damage associated with problem gambling and should be given the opportunity to be heard.
‘The Select Committee process is an important part of our democracy and it is one of the few opportunities people have to voice their concerns about new legislation.
‘With expenditure on gaming machines in just the last three months (to December 31) standing at a whopping $245.3m we believe it would be a tragedy for the experience of people affected by problem gambling to be lost through their omission from the oral submission process.’
The Salvation Army runs Oasis problem gambling services in seven cities around the country and is a significant provider of problem gambling services in New Zealand. Last year Oasis saw more than one thousand people who had been affected by problem gambling which is related to financial problems, problems at work, poor parenting, relationship problems, family violence, alcohol abuse and mental health problems. Many people affected by problem gambling are affected by somebody else’s gambling addiction.