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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 June 2015
NEWS 2 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 JUNE 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Xenophon scolds ACT Labor over pokies Party’s reliance on poker machine revenue likened to intravenous ‘drip’ Senator Nick Xenophon said this week that ACT Labor's reliance on poker machine revenue is an intravenous "drip", one day before a Senate inquiry into the clubs industry began in the national capital. Speaking to Fairfax Media, Senator Xenophon, who gave evidence at the inquiry, said the ALP's reliance on the ACT Labor Club group was a "fundamental conflict of interest". "The ALP in the ACT and more broadly is on the drip from the ACT Labor Club," Senator Xenophon said. According to recent figures released by the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, of the $36.6 million generated by the Labor Partyowned group, 68 per cent is relates to gambling revenue. Former ACT Labor Chief Minister Jon Stanhope made the call earlier this year to cut the party's connections with the gambling industry, but his motion was knocked back with little party support. Meanwhile, ACT Labor insists its association with the Labor Club does not influence its thinking when drafting legislation regarding poker machines. Senator Xenophon disagrees, claiming that when poker machine operators try to buy themselves time by requesting further research be done to help gamblers, that politicians cave in. "Politicians are completely out of step with that because they are compromised," he said. "Politicians either unwittingly or deliberately, give them that time because they rely so heavily on pokies taxes as a source of revenue." During his appearance at the enquiry, the senator said that 40 per cent of poker machine losses were directly linked to problem gamblers - with less than 15 per cent of them helped. Critical of the unlimited withdrawals available from eftpos machines in clubs, his suggestions for moving forward included the arrangement of an algorithm to calculate losses, a system that could identify and then assist gamblers in need. In a 2009 study of 5,500 Canberrans, the ANU Centre for Gambling Research calculated that 10 per cent of those least-educated had contributed to close to one-quarter of pokies revenue. Updated data is due to be released soon. "Something like 90 per cent of poker machine players never put in more than one dollar at a time into a machine. "A similar percentage of the population would support this sort of reform, yet it was vehemently opposed Senator Nick Xenophon by the industry, clubs, the hotels, and casino operators like James Packer, because they know this would mess up their business model which relies so heavily on addiction," said Mr Xenophon. If clubs were willing to go ahead with the suggestions, Victoria pledges more for family violence victims Minister Mikakos urges Greek heritage women to seek help HELEN VELISSARIS Thirty-nine organisations in Victoria which are helping victims of family violence - including women and children from ethnic backgrounds - are to receive $3.5 million in funding to enable them to continue providing services to their communities. Announced by Victorian Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos, the funding will assist organisations in employing 22 additional counselling staff, who Minister for Families, Children and Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos PHOTO: AAP/JULIAN SMITH. will together provide an extra 40,000 hours of counselling across the state. Ms Mikakos told Neos Kosmos that while help is out there for victims, many still aren't seeking help, especial- ly those from ethnic backgrounds. "I recognise there may be some women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who have experienced family violence but who are not accessing mainstream counselling and support services," she said. "I encourage Greek women who are impacted by family violence to seek help." Organisations in areas with the greatest demand will be given the lion's share of the money, with six high-need areas identified: Bayside Peninsula, Southern Melbourne, North East Melbourne, Western Melbourne, Inner Gippsland and Hume Moreland. The Victorian government is also continuing to give $1.4 million to inTouch - the Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence - which assist women and children who don't feel comfortable seeking mainstream help. he proposed introducing tax incentives. During the inquiry, Labor backbencher Mary Porter expressed concern about other forms of gambling and that people could simply take up another form of gambling, which Mr Xenophon pre- PHOTO: AAP IMAGE/LUKAS COCH. dicted would not be a likely result. "Still the biggest source of problem gambling in this country is poker machines, and that's unlikely to be overtaken any time soon." Source: Canberra Times, The Age Councillors head to Canberra More than 10 Greek Aus- tralian councillors from across the country will meet with Greece's Ambassador to Australia Mr Haris Dafaranos next week in between talks with federal politicians. Attending the annual Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) national assembly on June 15-16 in Canberra, the councillors will take the opportunity to discuss community issues such as language retention and ways councils can help retain cultural ties. This will be the second year the group will meet with Ambassador Dafaranos, after Manningham City Council's Jim Grivokostopoulos decided to bring together local government councillors of Greek descent. The gathering provides a rare chance for council- Ambassador Haris Dafaranos lors to lobby federal politicians on issues affecting their districts. Some 560 councils across the country are a part of ALGA, with many hoping to send at least one representative to the assembly.
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