Workers fear pokie law
WHILE pokies have become more than the proverbial political football in Canberra, district clubs are bracing themselves for the fallout they say could cripple their businesses and decimate local jobs.
Two workers at Casino's biggest club, the Casino RSM, 53-year-old cellarman, Peter “Cookie” Cook and 19-year-old Allie McLennan, are struggling to understand the broader debate – or rather, why it could mean their jobs are on the line.
“Personally I don't really understand politics. I don't know how it works,” Mr Cook said yesterday.
“To me it seems wrong that one person can force his way and cause so much harm to so many people working in pubs and clubs when the thing he wants I don't even believe will work.
“I've still got to work and having only done one thing all my life I'm at that age where no one wants to employ you or retrain you to do something else, so there are not a lot of options ... I don't know mate, I'd probably have to move some-where else to find work.”
From the other end of the age spectrum, Allie McLennan is in the same boat. Three months ago the former Casino High School student finished a 12-month traineeship at the club and was excited about her future – but is now not so sure.
“This is my first main job since I left school. I've learnt a lot of new skills and it's a great place to work,” she said.
“I'm just not sure what I would do as (the proposed legislation) would certainly put a halt to my plans.
“Most of my school friends have left the area to find work. I guess I would have to move away too, there's just not the jobs in Casino.”
The NSW Government strongly opposes the proposed Federal legislation, and State Lismore MP Thomas George said yesterday he would fight any plans that put the jobs and community organisations supported by licensed clubs at risk – a position that finds him in an unlikely alliance with the liquor trades union, United Voice.
Union secretary Tara Moriarty said the push by Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie for a mandatory pre-commitment scheme would cause great hardship.
“While many people under-stand where Andrew Wilkie is coming from, we also need him to understand his zeal for reform will hurt low-income workers and their families and communities, particularly in the regions where alternative employment is limited,” she said.