Open letter to the NSW Parliament regarding proposed changes to liquor and gambling laws

Dear ministers of the NSW Parliament,

I am writing on behalf of my church (Open Heaven Church in Prestons NSW) to object to the planned changes to the laws affecting the granting of liquor licenses in New South Wales.
In particular, we understand that under the new legislation, the community around proposed new venues for gambling and alcohol sales will no longer be able to defend themselves, their children and their people against alcohol and gambling related harms for the following reasons:

  •  Persons living within 50 – 100 metres only (from the venue) will be able to object (and only electronically), as is the current legislation for land sales.
  • Accurate research shows that alcohol related harms impact the community for at least 5 km’s from any proposed site.
  •  Many people do not even own a computer or know how to use one even if they do live within the proposed limits.
  • The last point of judgment will no longer be with ILGA, it will be with NCAT. NCAT is supposed to be a court where services are prompt, accessible, economical and effective. NCAT has supposed to be a timely and cost-effective internal appeals mechanism to enable prompt review of most Tribunal
    decisions. The Casula Community Group for Responsible Planning has already experienced the opposite and been locked out of NCAT proceedings at the request of the De Angelis HIG, the owners of the equal most violent and second most violent venue in the state.

The last point raised above is associated with an attempt by the De Angelis Hotel and Investment Group to build a large gambling venue and pub in the Casula suburb.
The Casula Community Group for Responsible Planning has for 18 months been trying to access the COPS and LINKING Data from 4 local hotels that are owned by the De Angelis Hotel and Investment Group as it will help them oppose the building of the large pokie Hotel/Pub they wish to build 135 metres from our large primary school, adjacent to a large government aged and disability block of units, near two woman’s refuges, just 5 meters wall to wall from the nearest home, and near several places of worship.

After considerable negotiations the police agreed in writing (in exchange for withdrawing a GIPA complaint from NCAT) to join Casula Community Group for Responsible Planning Inc to them to oppose De Angelis stopping us from the seeing the data we need.
However the senior member has blocked the Group from joining that appeal.

In addition, De Angelis Group have contracted a barrister who is expert in getting hotels and pubs the licenses they need to open and operate hotels and pubs at a sum of money in the arena of $8,000 to $14,000 per day.
The hospitality minister says the new laws will help communities. This could not be further from the truth.

The Casula Community Group has been locked out and has no money.
If community groups get locked out now on request of the opponent on a simple issue around data sharing, how would it be different if an appeal based on ILGA occurs?
Most of what has have achieved will be negated given persons who live within the 100 metres only will be able to object to the granting of a liquor license by ILGA .

More details on the proposed new venue at Casula –

  • The site on the Hume Hwy is on a stretch of road reported by AAMI as having the greatest number of accidents in Sydney during 2014.
  • The Local Government area has equal second highest number of Domestic violence in Sydney as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald
  • First DA unanimously rejected by IHAP because of negative social impact harms
  • Two thousand people showed their objection to approval of the Council Development Application previously, and seven hundred school students made their own petitions and signed them previously. (Most, including the children’s voices would be silenced in an NCAT appeal if the new legislation gets through the Upper House this week!)
  • Australia already has the worst rate of gambling harms (majority pokies) in the world. NSW has the worst rates in the country. Liverpool being the second worst in NSW.
  • Both Houses of NSW Parliament regardless to political party agreed that this hotel and pub should not go ahead.

If the legislation succeeds:
Churches and charities would have to carry a much higher burden as it would become open slather for the unwanted cashed up alcohol industry forcibly coming into communities and destroying more lives and bringing crime along with them.

In particular we object to the changes to the liquor and gambling laws to emasculate local communities’ opportunities to effectively oppose and prevent high risk, late trading and violent liquor and gambling venues in their local neighbourhoods.

John Hemans
Senior Pastor,
Open Heaven Church