Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 

District Council Supports No Pokies 4 Coober Pedy

The District Council of Coober Pedy in its April General Meeting last night voted three to two to support the Motion on Notice, "That Council publicly supports the proposal to remove all poker machines from the Town".
A record 23 people packed the chambers.
Of nine people addressing Council on issues of concern, one urged councillors to support the motion, one queried why Council should get involved in debating the merits or otherwise, of a legally established business.
Cr Rapaic, in support of his Motion, said many people had come to him saying how bad were the effects of poker machines in Coober Pedy. That got him on the path of opposition to poker machines, resulting in a petition signed by nearly 1000 - that's more than the number of people who voted in the last election in the Coober Pedy Polling Booth - asking for the total removal of poker machines from the town.
Cr Blobel seconded the Motion.
Cr Athanasiadis said a handful of ratepayers had asked him not to support the Motion, but this number was far less than those asking him to supoport it, and as a councillor he felt he had to reflect the majority.
Cr Doulgeris said that although she acknowledged the problems poker machines caused, she would not support the Motion. Instead, she would support a motion that recognised the need to push for gambling counsellors to come Coober Pedy to do the job that they are supposed to be doing, but are not here to do it.
Cr Temple did a complete backflip. She had previously signed a letter supporting the removal of poker machines from Coober Pedy: (http://nopokies4cooberpedy.net.au/rose.html), saying that it would be an infringement of civil liberties to remove poker machines from Cober Pedy.

The vote to support No Pokies 4 Coober Pedy carries absolutely no legal weight, and there can be no criticism of the legality of the establishment of poker machines in Coober Pedy.

However, through the Coucil voting to support the Motion, State Government and local poker machine operators must now acknowledge that the majority of people in this little town are against their collective decision to operate them.

The message to the State of South Australia and to the Nation is clear:

The rule of law has to be respected, and honour given to law-abiding people and businesses.

But there is no need to give honour to supporters of a bad law.

Monday, April 18, 2005

 

Capital City Journalist Flies in for No Pokies 4 Coober Pedy

Fifteen locals, including 2 Councillors, responded, some with only a few hours notice, to a request from Adelaide Advertiser journalist Laura Anderson to meet with her and to talk about their reasons for opposition to Poker Machines in Coober Pedy.
Tomorrow night at the District Council of Coober Pedy April Meeting a Motion on Notice is on the Agenda again, that could not be voted on last month because of a lack of a quorum caused by the inability of the fifth Elected Member abstaining from the vote because of a conflict of interest.
The Motion reads: "That Council publicly supports the proposal to remove all poker machines from the Town"
There are 8 elected members; one resigned early in his term, leaving 7. One councillor cannot vote because of a conflict of interest. That leaves 6. One other probably won't be there because of work commitments in another town. Leaves 5. One is rumoured to be unable to attend. Leaves 4. With the Mayor that is a quorum. He only gets a casting vote.
The Agenda giving notice of the Motion on Notice was publicly available late on April 14. In a quick response dated April 18, lawyers for the owners of the businesses operating poker machines in Coober Pedy sent a letter to the Council CEO stating in part:

"You may be aware that Section 4 of the Gaming Machines Act 1992 ( as amended) specifically excludes the participation of Councils in the Gaming Application process"



A search on internet gives Section 4 of the Gaming Machines Act 1992 as:

"GAMING MACHINES ACT 1992 - SECT 4

4—Application of this Act

(1) This Act does not apply to or in relation to a gaming machine operated in the licensed casino under the Casino Act 1997 .

(2) Despite any other Act or law to the contrary, gaming and the possession, sale, supply or operation of a gaming machine, as authorised by this Act or a licence under this Act, are lawful.

(3) Subject to any other provision of this Act to the contrary, this Act binds the Crown."

It will be interesting to see how many councillors see this as having any significant bearing on their vote on the Motion, and if the CEO or the Mayor will give any direction to the councillors regarding Section 4 of the Gaming Machines Act and its relevance to councillors' ability to support the Motion.


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