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Labour, UF MPs urged not to gamble consciences

12 August, 2003

Greens urge Labour, UF MPs not to gamble their consciences

The Green Party will not support the Responsible Gambling Bill when it comes back to Parliament for its second reading this afternoon as it goes nowhere near far enough to alleviate the community crisis caused by pokie machines.

Green Gambling spokesperson Sue Bradford will oppose the bill on the grounds it keeps the distribution of around $200 million a year of pokie profits in private hands, and that local authorities will not have enough say over the location and number of pokie venues in their communities.

"I have grave reservations as to whether this bill will actually make a dent in the growing problem of gambling addiction in our communities," said Ms Bradford.

"The explosion in the numbers of non casino gaming machines has seen pokie parlours deliberately placed into every nook and cranny of lower-income neighbourhoods, geared to extract whatever little cash is left from beneficiaries and mothers who've just walked their children to school.

"This bill, despite paying lip service to community controls, will only affect around one fifth of pokie machines, namely the approximately 5000 machines whose venues were licensed after October 2001 out of 25,000."

The Green Party will not support the Responsible Gambling Bill unless councils are given more say over the location of pokies in their districts, and a more equitable and publicly accountable distribution system is established.

"I find it extraordinary that United Future Christian MP Gordon Copeland and his colleagues could possibly vote for this Bill in its current form given the extent to which problem gambling is destroying New Zealand families," said Ms Bradford.

"I hope both United Future and Labour Members of Parliament will take a good look at their consciences and support changes to the Bill as promoted by the Green Party and many church and community groups, and by Local Government NZ."

"Parties which talk about family values and social justice should apply these principles when they deal with social evils like gambling, not just when it suits them."

ENDS

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