Enough Pokies in Castlemaine (EPIC) was formed in August 2010 to oppose the possibility of 65 more poker machines arriving in Castlemaine. The plan by the Maryborough Highland Society to introduce these new pokies will negatively impact the social and economic wellbeing of our town. EPIC is committed to fighting the introduction of more pokies and seeks to work with any group or individual passionate about protecting our Castlemaine community.

WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Deputy President Dwyer from VCAT handed down his decision last Thursday February 14th. There will be no more poker machines in Castlemaine! We would like to thank all our members and supporters.  This is a victory for communities everywhere who are trying to halt the pokies juggernaut. Enormous and resounding thanks to Lizzie, Susan, Ron, Raph, Steve and Olivia, our brilliant legal team, who worked for us pro bono via the Maurice Blackburn Social Justice program. We were so lucky to have such incredible representation. Lastly we would like to thank the Mount Alexander Shire Council who had the courage and integrity to see the whole process through.

A fantastic initiative that has sprung from EPIC is PNP (People Not Pokies) which is dedicated to sponsoring local sporting groups without reliance on poker machine revenue:

” ‘People Not Pokies’ believes that communities can fund their own sporting and community clubs without needing money from gaming revenue. We aim to raise money through public and private donations and business sponsorship. We are excited to announce that we are on the verge of signing an historic five year agreement with the Castlemaine Football/Netball club on the proviso they do not take any money from gaming revenue. This will be the first such agreement with a grass roots football club in Australia and it is occuring in our own shire.
We hope People Not Pokies can in turn sponsor other community and sporting clubs in the shire and build a successful model that we can send to other communities.
We are very excited at the formation of People Not Pokies and the possibility to unite all sectors of the community. Football clubs are an integral aspect of country town life with hundreds of people involved in running the club and participating in football and netball. We would like all members of EPIC to become involved and learn a more about People Not Pokies. Our website is peoplenotpokies.org and our Facebook page is  https://www.facebook.com/pages/People-not-Pokies/371276692934548.
You will see more of People not Pokies in the coming weeks, we hope you will support this initiative as you have EPIC.
People Not Pokies is made up of supporters and members of EPIC and is for the community.
Jeremy Forbes
President of People Not Pokies”
Thank You Everyone!
EPIC

 

Council will vote on the MHS’s planning application 12/02/12

The Maryborough Highland Society’s planning permit application (which has been running concurrently with the gambling permit appeal), reaches a critical stage at this Tuesday’s Council Meeting at the Town Hall.

After receiving more than 500 written objections to the planning permit and months of consideration, it appears Council Officers have recommended the planning permit application be refused.

The report and recommendation is within the Council Agenda here.

Council will vote on Tuesday February 12 to support or oppose the MHS development on planning terms and we encourage all EPIC members and supporters, particularly those among the 500+ community members who have submitted a written objection, to attend the Town Hall meeting at 7.30pm.

We believe the opposition to the MHS proposal to treble the number of pokies in our Shire is diverse and significant.

We encourage you to attend Tuesday’s meeting and by simply being there, remind Councillors that Community opposition to this toxic proposal remains strong and committed.

The EPIC Committee thanks you for your continued support and reminds those community members attending that there is provision to address Council during question time but at all other times during the meeting, please ensure silence and respect for Councillors and Council process is maintained.

On the VCAT gambling permit matter – of course we will contact everyone with news of the decision as soon as we receive it.

Thanks again!

The EPIC committee

VCAT APPEAL RECOMMENCING DECEMBER 10th

Hi Members, Friends and Supporters. The VCAT appeal recommences on Monday December 10th 2012. Please come along if you can. If you are not already a member, join here: http://enoughpokies.org/membership.php.

We will be catching the 8.06am Castlemaine train down to Melbourne every morning from Monday through to Thursday or Friday (depending upon how long the hearing takes). Join us if you can! VCAT is located at 55 King Street Melbourne (on the N/W corner of King St and Flinders Lane) The hearing runs from 10.00-4.30 daily. If you need additional info or assistance getting to VCAT, please contact secretary@enoughpokies.org. Thanks!

Follow what’s happening at VCAT!

Follow us from August 20-24 at: http://enoughpokies.tumblr.com/

Open letter published in the Maryborough Advertiser 17/08/12

Published in the Maryborough Advertiser 17/08/12

VCAT Hearing August 20th to 24th. Come along!

Hi Members, friends and supporters! A reminder that the VCAT hearing commences this coming Monday August 20th. We will be catching the 8.06am Castlemaine train down to Melbourne every morning from Monday through to Friday. Join us if you can! VCAT is located at 55 King Street Melbourne (on the N/W corner of King St and Flinders Lane) The hearing runs from 10.00-4.30 daily. If you need additional info or assistance getting to VCAT, please contact secretary@enoughpokies.org. Thanks!

VCAT UPDATE 26/06/12

Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,

We’ve formally been given the green light to participate in the VCAT
hearings – we’re the first genuine community organisation to be able to
participate in these kind of proceedings and the first non-council body
to lead evidence in an appeal from the Commission at VCAT.

Today’s decision demonstrates that VCAT understands views from EPIC are
important in the interests of justice in making the final decision.

The decision by Senior Member Proctor today has legitimised our
organisation presenting important evidence to the hearing on behalf of
the concerned community of Castlemaine.

Thankyou all for your tremendous support! And a big thankyou also, to our team at Maurice Blackburn. Check here or on our Facebook page for regular updates.

Support this action by a group of Woolworths shareholders

http://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/pokies-reform/1-120-solution/woolworths-time-for-pokie-reform

For the first time hundreds of GetUp members have come together to use their shareholder power to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of a top 20 ASX company: Woolworths Ltd.

Will you join us in this historic tactic by supporting the resolution to be moved at that meeting that would require Woolworths to make their poker machines safer for communties? We must demonstrate that it’s not just shareholders that are counting on Woolworths to do the right thing, but also customers across the country. Please add your name to this petition, to be delivered by shareholders to the Woolworths Board at the EGM: Sign on to support the resolution using our simple tool on the right. Here is a summary of the resolution:

If passed, the resolution would amend the constitution of Woolworths Ltd to prevent it owning, operating or benefiting from:

“any electronic gaming machine offering games to the public:

i. at a cost of more than $1 per button push; and/or

ii. by which the machine is capable of generating net revenue at an average rate of more than $120 per hour; and/or

iii. for more than 18 consecutive hours in a 24 hour period”

from January 2016 onward.

Read the letter we wrote that Woolworths must send to all shareholders here

VCAT UPDATE

The decision on whether EPIC can be joined as a party at VCAT  has been deferred. We expect to hear the decision within the next two weeks. We will keep you updated.

IT’S TIME TO LODGE POKIES PLANNING OBJECTIONS

The MHS has finally activated its planning application which means we have until 8/6/2012 to lodge planning objections with Mount Alexander Shire Council.
The planning process is separate to the gaming licence process which included the first round of written objections and is being appealed to VCAT.
Planning objections could include concerns about traffic, car parking, noise and disturbance, hours of operation, heritage issues, amenity and character impacts, and impacts on CBD businesses and traders.

FOR INFO AND TO OBJECT ONLINE CLICK HERE

COUNCIL MEETING TONIGHT (8th May)

Tonight the Mount Alexander Shire Council will vote on whether to continue with the VCAT appeal. Please come along and show your support. Tonight Tuesday May 8th at 7.30pm at the Senior Citizens Centre near the library. Apologies for the short notice. See you there!

ONLINE PETITION

We have just launched an online campaign urging the Victorian government to stop ignoring communities on pokies. Please sign and distribute widely.

http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/listen-to-castlemaine-change-the-pokies-system-3
We know that the Victorian government oversees a system that allows pokies developers to impose unwanted pokies on communities.There is an even closer link between the government and the pokies industry in the case of a proposed development with 65 poker machines in Castlemaine. The new pokies venue will be in a historic goods shed that the government rail agency VicTrack has leased to MHS, a Maryborough-based pokies developer.
Castlemaine residents have made it clear that they don’t want more pokies, we’ve been ignored, but we are fighting on. There will be no more pokies in our shire. Please sign the petition for Castlemaine, and for all communities who have had enough of the social and economic pain pokies bring.

VCAT UPDATE

The VCAT directions hearing held today (2 April) before Senior Member Ian Proctor was positive, although no outcome was forthcoming. Council asked for the appeal against the MHS’s gaming permit be delayed and heard together with the (inevitable) planning appeal. This would approach would seem to be an efficient and economical use of Council, VCAT and the MHS’s time and resources.

The MHS opposed this application and said that they want the gaming appeal heard separately. They argued that if they lose the gaming licence appeal, there will be no planning appeal and so the gaming appeal should be heard separately.

Senior Member Proctor has reserved his decision on delaying the gaming appeal, and we don’t know when the decision on this matter will be handed down.

A positive development in relation to EPIC’s joinder application is that it will be heard at a later date, which is the outcome we were hoping for. We’ll keep you posted on when this is likely to be, and on any further developments in the appeal.

EPIC IS APPLYING TO BE JOINED AS A PARTY TO THE COUNCIL’S APPEAL TO VCAT

To offer the greatest possible assistance to Mount Alexander Shire and make sure the community is properly represented at VCAT, EPIC intends to apply to be joined as a party to the VCAT appeal.
If we are joined, our legal team (Maurice Blackburn are acting on behalf of EPIC on a pro bono basis) will be able to provide the community with the best representation available. This would ensure the unprecedented level of community oppositionto more pokies is clearly demonstrated to VCAT and allow EPIC and the wider public to relieve the council of many costs associated with the case. As part of this process we need you to sign up as a member of EPIC, even if you are already on our email list.

COUNCIL MEETING 14 FEB: LOVE CASTLEMAINE? GO TO VCAT

At the Council meeting on 14 February, Mount Alexander Shire Council will be voting on whether to appeal to VCAT the VCGR decision to allow MHS to bring more pokies to our town. Come along and support Council as they make this important decision.

Why not email your Councillor in the meantime (find email addresses here http://www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/Page/Page.asp?Page_Id=92) to let them know that you don’t want more pokies and would like them to appeal the decision. Keep in mind that Councillors will be heavily lobbied over this issue, so keep things positive, and email rather than call.

There has been no indication to date that Councillors will change their previous positions on this. You may have heard Mayor Janet Cropley quoted in the media saying the cost of going to VCAT could be prohibitive. It is EPIC’s understanding that she was misquoted, and that she has not announced a decision on this issue. Come along to the Council meeting to find out how your ward Councillor votes.

OPEN EPIC MEETING: 20 FEBRUARY, 7:30pm, THEATRE ROYAL

Regardless of whether or not Council decides to appeal to VCAT, our community struggle goes on. EPIC will be having an open meeting on 20 Feb at 7:30pm at the Theatre Royal. We invite those opposed to more pokies in Castlemaine to come and hear what’s going on, have your say and get involved.

VCGR DECISION

For those who are interested, the VCGR findings were that:

  • the proposal will result in net social detriment to the town;
  • the proposal will result in net economic benefit to the town (from gambling income and job creation); and
  • that on balance, the net social and economic impact of the proposal is neutral.

In effect, even though they approved the application, they found that it would not benefit the town overall.

You can read the decision for yourself here

THE FIGHT GOES ON

The VCGR has approved the MHS’s application for a gaming license. While this was expected, it is disappointing that the wishes of the Castlemaine community weren’t honoured. Mount Alexander Shire Council now has 28 days to appeal the matter to VCAT. Please contact Council as a matter of urgency and let them know that you want them to appeal the decision on your behalf. There will be much work to do so stay tuned… and keep your chins up Castlemaniacs, this pokies development will not be built.

HAS YOUR EPIC SIGN GONE MISSING?

Following the hearing at the VCGR, the VCGR Commissioners
will be coming to Castlemaine in the next week to do a site visit.

Unfortunately, many of our ‘NO MORE POKIES’ signs have been stolen and the Commissioners won’t get to see the town as it was two weeks ago with all the signs up.

You can help:
If you have time why not make a sign and put it up?
If your still have a sign but think it could go in a more obvious place let us know and we will come and move it.
If you are in a prominent place and your sign has been stolen let us
know and we will put another one up, or you can pick one up from the Theatre Royal.

VCGR HEARING: THE COMMISSIONERS CAN BE LEFT IN NO DOUBT THAT OUR COMMUNITY DOES NOT WANT MORE POKIES

At the VCGR hearing last week, Mount Alexander Shire Council and local residents, including EPIC, presented overwhelming evidence that showed our community does not want and would be harmed by the proposed pokies development.

The Maryborough Highland Society spent much of their allocated time at the hearing trying to discredit EPIC, our community and our Council, in an attempt to discredit the very real community opposition. Society President John Inglis said under oath he hadn’t bothered to read the Council’s assessment of the social and economic impact of the pokies development. It became clear that the MHS know so little about Castlemaine that they didn’t even realise that the Salvation Army is located right next to the proposed venue.

Their self-serving pro-pokies and anti-community arguments would be expected from any developer, but they are disappointing coming from a not-for-profit organisation that could exist to build, rather than destroy, real community values.

We will know in three weeks, or less, whether the VCGR will give appropriate weight to the community’s wishes and refuse Maryborough Highland Society a permit to operate 65 pokies in the centre of our town. If the permit is granted, we stand ready to launch the next phase of the campaign to have this development stopped.

Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, it was inspiring to see diverse parts of our community come together and speak with one voice. Many thanks to all those who represented us so proudly.

THE EPIC VCGR SUBMISSION

If you would like to see the submission that EPIC has given to the VCGR, please click here. Note that paragraph 3.5.14 has been withdrawn and should be disregarded.

VCGR hearing

The hearing to decide the outcome of the MHS application for a gaming license to operate 65 pokies in Castlemaine will run for two full days – 11 and 12 January – at the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, level 5, 35 Spring Street, Melbourne. The hearing will run from 10am to 4pm with a one hour lunch break.

The hearing is open to the public.

It is our understanding that MHS will make their case on the first day, and Council and EPIC will present on the second day.

EPIC is running a bus to the hearing and back to Castlemaine on both days. For more information and to book a seat on the bus please click here.

Note that each ticket buys a seat on the bus to the hearing on the day that you choose. If you want to come on the bus on both days of the hearing please buy two tickets – one for each day. The ticket does not guarantee a seat in the hearing room which may be standing room only depending on numbers attending.

COME ALONG AND LET COUNCIL KNOW THAT YOU DONT WANT MORE POKIES

At their next meeting this Tuesday 13 December at 7:30 pm at Castlemaine Senior Citizens Centre, Mount Alexander shire Council will be presenting their ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF MARYBOROUGH HIGHLAND SOCIETY GAMING PROPOSAL. This will form the basis of Council’s submission to the VCGR. Lets give Council a clear message that to represent our community they must lead the way in stopping this pokies development. Come along and be counted.

THE RESULTS ARE IN: CASTLEMAINE SAYS NO TO MORE POKIES

The results of Council’s community survey about the proposed pokies venue are now public and they are overwhelming. A significant majority (79%) say either there are enough pokies in the Shire already or too many. A clear majority of respondents (75%) were opposed to the overall development if it contains EGMs (pokies). A majority of respondents (71%) say they wouldn‟t frequent the venue if it was approved. The community has spoken. We’ll soon find out if anyone is listening.

HUGE TURNOUT AT EPIC RALLY

Hundreds of locals turned out in the rain to support the campaign against more pokies in Castlemaine. At the rally inspiring speakers outlined in clear terms why more pokies would be so devastating for our town. To cheers and applause from the crowd, they pledged to maintain the struggle to defend our town from these predatory machines until this proposal is long dead.

After the speeches the crowd formed a symbolic human chain several people deep around the goods shed (the proposed development site). Arms linked, they cried “No more pokies”. Any observer could be left with no doubt that the Castlemaine community will not let this development occur.

Lets hope the developers realise they are wasting their time and money pursuing this venue. Then we can get on with making a positive contribution to our community instead of defending it from attacks from outside.

EPIC GATHERING AT THE GOODS SHED

12 noon Saturday 26 November outside our Goods Shed, Kennedy Street.

We’ve objected (if you haven’t, you still have time – see below), now join us for an hour or so to hear some of our community leaders on why they object to more pokies and what the next steps in the campaign are.

We’ll have some fun as well. Lets see how many people it will take to form a human chain around our shed. The Highlanders might have the lease, but the building is still an asset of the Victorian people. This is our opportunity to send a strong message to the Highlanders and our Councillors that Castlemaine will not stand for this development. We encourage you to be creative in showing why you object to 65 more pokies in Castlemaine; placards, costumes, puppets, pets all welcome!

In their objections, people have come up with some excellent ideas on how our shed could be used to benefit the community instead of damaging it. Bring along your idea to write on our ‘What we really want’ list, which we’ll publish on the EPIC website.

THERE ARE ONLY A FEW ‘NO MORE POKIES’ PLACARDS LEFT

Send us an email (info@enoughpokies.org) if you have a visible spot – we’ll come and put one up.

OBJECTIONS: THIS COULD BE A RECORD!
The quantity and quality of objections has been amazing, and speaks of how community minded the people of our shire are. As far as we can calculate, more than 300 objections have been lodged. Probably many more. This is sure to be a record number, but we need to keep going. If you haven’t yet objected, or know someone who hasn’t, you now have until Monday 14 November to object. Click here for how to object.

WHAT’S NEXT?
The VCGR will hold a hearing into the development in January or February 2012. Arguments are likely to be heard from Mount Alexander Shire Council (if they make a submission to the VCGR), the Highlanders and the Castlemaine community. People who have made objections will be informed and may be able to attend and/or testify at the hearing. EPIC have asked the VCGR to be given an opportunity to present at the hearing.

The VCGR will then make a ruling as to whether or not the development can go ahead. At this stage either Mount Alexander Shire Council or the Highlanders can appeal the decision to VCAT. EPIC will keep you informed along the way.