Survey requirement ‘slap face’


Zoe Moffatt

Macedon Ranges residents have spoken out against a council requirement prohibiting most residents from completing a survey about the Romsey Hotel’s gaming machine application.

Romsey Football Netball Club Inc applied to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission for approval of 50 gaming machines at the Romsey Hotel late last year.

On March 18, Macedon Ranges council invited Romsey residents and those living within five kilometres of the Romsey Hotel, to complete a survey about the application to “help inform council’s submission to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC).”

The decision to exclude all other residents from completing the survey has been criticised by local advocacy group Keep Romsey Pokies Free.

In a statement the group said the social life of Romsey is not only dependent on those living within a five or 10 kilometre radius of the town.

“The five kilometre line is nonsensical in a country town and a slap in the face to our farmers who are still a backbone of Australia,” the group said.

“Pokies addiction is destructive and highly likely to persuade an individual at risk to travel readily over five kilometres to gamble away his/her savings.”

The group pointed to previous council feasibility studies which have taken larger areas of residents into account.

“The feasibility study for aquatic facilities invited all those who use the existing services in Romsey to have a say. This includes those living five kilometres or more away- it didn’t discriminate.

“It is a fact of regional and rural life that those in the outlying farming and lifestyle allotment areas utilise the nearest town or nearest town with relevant services as their hubs.

“Why should an impact survey not take the same approach to feasibility studies?

“If you are likely to access the services you are equally likely to be impacted by a proposal such as this… via the impact on the town residents and the businesses or organisations that service you.”

In response to these criticisms, Macedon Ranges council pointed to information on its dedicated ‘Your Say’ website, which states “for the purposes of this survey, council has received specialist advice that the VGCCC seeks direct feedback from those within the town/ five kilometre radius of the venue.”

Residents outside of the five-kilometre survey area can share their opinion on the application through a submission directly to the VGCCC.