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Power to the people

23/08/2012

A hearing to decide whether a club with 65 gaming machines can be established in the central Victorian town of Castlemaine opened in Melbourne on Monday 20 August 2012. Castlemaine residents, the Mount Alexander Shire’s chief executive, anti-pokie protesters and members from the Castlemaine Sports and Community Club packed out the tribunal room.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation gave evidence, to explain why it approved a licence for 65 poker machines. The protest group opposing the plans, Enough Pokies in Castlemaine, was not permitted to cross-examine the developers. The whole procedure is a sham, and an undemocratic one at that. Unfortunately, the residents of Castlemaine seem unaware of this.

I’m a regular visitor to Castlemaine, and I view the residents as decent people who are dis-empowered by this silly unnecessary hearing that does not meet the fundamental principles of a democratic process. Surely, I’m not the only one who views how this dispute is managed as plainly put —undemocratic. May I boldly suggest a referendum to decide this matter, whereby all eligible residents of Castlemaine lodge their vote to a proposition that states the matter simply and unequivocally. There are council elections in October 2012 and surely a referendum to decide this matter could be included. That’s democracy! This sham hearing is the antithesis of democracy.

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