The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane has urged the Queensland Government to take caution in relation to proposals to relax Queensland’s liquor and gaming laws.
The Commission was responding to some of the proposals raised in a discussion paper which has arisen as part of the Government’s Red Tape Reform agenda.
In particular, the Commission has expressed its opposition to some of the gaming machine proposals contained in the discussion paper as well as proposals to allow clubs and hotels with gaming machines to open before 10 a.m., to let lapse the moratorium on extended liquor trading in areas outside a number of urban entertainment precincts, and to lift trading restrictions on Anzac Day, Good Friday and Christmas Day.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Government’s Red Tape Reform Program aims to foster more opportunities for businesses to grow and create economic prosperity, but some of the proposals for reforms in the area of liquor and gaming have the potential to diminish other important aspects which promote the well-being of individuals and society as a whole.
“Job opportunities are essential for the welfare of individuals and their families,” Mr Arndt said.
“Without jobs with fair pay and conditions, people will struggle to live with dignity and to provide for their family,” he said.
“However, making money is not the sole purpose of life,” he said.
“We also need to put a value on sharing time with our families and friends, on participation in the life of the community and on those momentous events which have played an important part in shaping our society and its culture,” he said.
“We believe that most people don’t want trading restrictions lifted on Anzac Day, Good Friday or Christmas Day,” he said.
“These are high days of the greatest importance when people want to put the priority on other things besides money and the economy,” he said.
“We believe most people want Anzac Day to remain a solemn day when the community remembers and pays respect to those who have died during wars and conflict,” he said.
“Whether people go to church or not, we think most Australians recognise the great significance of the life and death of Jesus Christ and want Good Friday and Christmas Day to remain special days free of money-making and business,” he said.
“We should especially remember the staff who work in clubs and hotels who mostly don’t want to work on Christmas Day because they want to spend it with their loved ones,” he said.
“Current restrictions on gaming machines should not be eased because this has the potential to create more misery for people with a gambling problem,” he said.
“We don’t think that the limits on the size of banknotes you can use in machines or the limit on the amount you can put in a machine at any time inconveniences anyone and it is better to keep the current restrictions to protect problem gamblers from more harm,” he said.
“Most people are not worried that clubs can’t open before 10 a.m. and we think keeping it that way reduces the potential harm for problem gamblers by limiting their access to machines,” he said.
“We also suggest that the moratorium on extended liquor trading in areas outside select urban entertainment precincts should be extended because this helps to reduce liquor-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour,” he said.
“We would much rather let police focus their prevention and enforcement strategies on a handful of precincts than have them try to keep a lid on alcohol-fuelled violence in suburban pubs and taverns all over the State,” he said.
The Commission has provided feedback on the proposals to the Justice Department and understands other church organisations have done so too.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right. The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.