Brisbane City Council this week announced that Brisbane will get a new $10 Million, 300-seat Performing Arts Centre.
This should be a cause for celebration, but many are left shaking their heads because the complex will be co-located with an improved gaming room for up to 180 poker machines.
Tim Costello AO, Chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce has condemned the decision, saying, “This announcement reveals the capture of the local government by the clubs’ industry money.”
This comes whilst the NSW State Government launches its new advertising campaign against gambling. The slogan, “You’re Stronger than You Think” encourages problem gamblers to seek help and kick their habit. This responsible approach could not be further from that of Council’s.
Council Opposition Leader, Milton Dick, has questioned the appropriateness of the decision and, whilst not wishing to delay the project, has called for greater community consultation on this aspect of it.
The new Performing Arts Centre is part of Council’s Youth Strategy 2014-2019 which aims to support, resource and celebrate Brisbane’s young people. The council consulted young people, their families, carers, guardians, youth advocates and young people on the strategy, but it would appear that the concept of a gaming room was not part of the plan.
ACL Queensland Director, Wendy Francis, has called on the Brisbane City Council to put aside any visions of short-term monetary gain from the proposed gaming room and give the people of Brisbane the promised Centre minus any unwanted “extras.”