The 2014 General Synod has chided the Federal Parliament for failing to respond effectively to a four year old report on gambling in Australia.
In 2010, the Productivity Commission found poker machines are the second highest cause of crime in the community after illegal drugs, they are responsible for the vast proportion of problem gambling and a significant factor in suicide attempts.
Wollongong’s Canon Sandy Grant moved a motion noting Federal Parliament’s ‘inactivity’ in responding to the Productivity Commission's recommendations and ‘grieves’ for Australians ‘damaged by pervasive problem gambling’.
“Poker machines are supposedly entertainment options for patrons: a harmless amusement. As currently configured, however, they produce significant harm for 30% of regular users. And 40% of pokie profits come from this relatively small number of problem gamblers.” Canon Grant said.
“We should not give up on change. We should keep the pressure on. Because so many Australians are damaged by problem gambling.” he told the Synod.
The motion was supported by the Reverend Shane Rogerson of Prahran in Melbourne.
Canon Grant compared the problem to road safety.
"Even though car accident hospitalization occurs at a rate 5 times lower than problem gambling, we approve all sorts of limits on our roads. Seat belts, speed limits, speed cameras. We need to put air bags and seat belts on poker machines" he said.
Synod voted to urge Federal, State and Territory parliaments to enact effective measures to reduce the impact and incidence of problem gambling, especially via poker machines, but also in the rapidly growing area of online gambling.
In addition, Synod called for long-term steps by governments to reduce their reliance on revenue from gambling taxes.