READER REPORT:

Exploitation rights sold to Sky City

SIMON PATERSON
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013
sky city
THE DEAL: Sky City Casino can build a convention centre in return for a law change allowing more pokie machines.

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The National government is selling legislative changes to the highest bidder and all we seem to be concerned about is nit-picking the bidding process.

Sky City Casino can build a convention centre in return for a law change allowing more pokie machines. Why aren't we asking ourselves why this regulation of pokie machines was a good idea in the first place? Why are we not asking what a convention centre has got to do with the degree to which we restrict pokie machines?

Those who fought for this legislation are likely to be under-funded, well-meaning volunteer organisations who look after those of us who know the devastation of problem gambling only to well. They were most likely up against the profit-focussed Sky City Casinos of this country when they won their hard fought legislation. I imagine their case had to be quite compelling to succeed. Now it seems all that just doesn't matter. The playing field has changed. The validity of their argument is not even relevant in this new game.

Would we mind if a tobacco company were to build the convention centre in return for lowering the smoking age? How about a mining company in return for the right to mine a national park? Would you be outraged if Greenpeace built it in return for heavy regulation on the fishing industry, or perhaps the mining industry? How about PETA build it in return for heavy animal welfare codes for the pork or poultry industries?.

The point is that the validity of these ideas has nothing to do with a convention centre. Call me naive but I assume laws restricting pokie machines came about through a process focused on the pros and cons of pokie machines. Surely therefore, assessing the pros and cons of pokie machines is the only way this legislation should be changed. A new convention centre may or may not be a great idea, but it is completely unrelated to the debate on restrictions on pokie machines and should stay that way.

Call me a cynic, but is the price of this change in legislation ($35 million to build the convention centre) at all correlated to the degree to which the collective public is uncomfortable with more pokie machines?

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If so, how many convention centres would a collective of gangs have to build in order to have P legalised?


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