Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

POWERFUL: Letter-writer, Fr Noel Richards, says the sculptures outside St Paul's Cathedral are a reminder of our need for compassion towards refugees.

POWERFUL: Letter-writer, Fr Noel Richards, says the sculptures outside St Paul's Cathedral are a reminder of our need for compassion towards refugees.

Compassion is the key

It  is disappointing that Helen Leach has misunderstood the meaning of the Manus, Nauru and Christmas Island "crucifixes" outside St Paul’s Cathedral (“Not all human rights abuses are equal”, Bendigo Advertiser, April 19).

They are there because we in Australia are responsible for what happens to these people. The refugee policy in these places is Australia's policy.

Hopefully, these wonderful sculptures will remind us of Christ's words, our compassion and help, that "what we do to others, we do to Him (Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 25, verses 31 to 46).

Fr Noel Richards

Even smokers have rights

I have to agree with Ross Tyson's comments (“Editorial: Let’s clear the air on public smoking debate”, Bendigo Advertiser, April 18). There are fewer and fewer freedoms in the world today, even to the point of being told what is and isn't acceptable to think.

Smoking is one of the few pleasures left. I am a non-smoker, but agree with Ross Tyson, those who smoke have the right to, and most smokers I know are considerate of others. I vote we leave them alone.

Murray McPhie, Epsom

Pokies prey on vulnerable

Poker machines are designed to be addictive and to maximise losses.

The increasing ubiquity of pokies pubs and clubs in Victorian suburbia is normalising gambling for the sole purpose of extracting as much money from punters as quickly as possible. There is an abundance of evidence that gambling – and pokies in particular – causes enormous harm.

Pokies bleed communities of hundreds of millions of dollars every year, whilst generating spiralling levels of problem gambling, relationship breakdown, debt and poverty.

Euphemistically calling a business or “community club” which depends upon addicts for at least 40 per cent of its profits a “hospitality venue” (Brendon Goddard, Bendigo Advertiser, April 8) merely adds insult to communal injury.

In 2010, the Productivity Commission argued that although clubs made community contributions: “The claimed benefits of gambling revenue on sporting activities and volunteering do not appear strong.

“Indeed, the presence of gambling may adversely affect volunteering rates. The gross value of social contributions by clubs is likely to be significantly less than the support governments provide to clubs through tax and other concessions.”

Numerous studies of the Victorian pokies industry have found that contributions to what most people would regard as genuine community benefits (as opposed to business and venue operating costs) are very low.

As a proportion of total pokies losses (to the community) donations and sponsorships amount to approximately 2.2 per cent.

The pokies industry, as represented by Bendigo Stadium at The Wellington in White Hills, knows that people under financial stress in first home-buyer areas (Epsom and Huntly) are vulnerable to addiction, and that opening up a venue metres from a primary school normalises gambling in the eyes of children.

Holy Rosary Primary School has comprehensively failed to recognise the biblical ravening wolf in sheep’s clothing at its door, and is being used to lend an aura of legitimacy to this predatory industry to the demonstrated detriment of the families and community it serves.

Governments and the venues whose business models depend upon pokies revenue must adjust their moral compass and overcome their mutual addiction to this social scourge. Likewise local government councillors who genuinely seek to represent the interests of their most disadvantaged and vulnerable constituents cannot do so by promoting the myth that pokies are good for communities.

Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk

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