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Welfare groups warn handout is a gamble -

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Welfare groups warn handout is a gamble

The World Today - Monday, 8 December , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Rachael Brown

ELEANOR HALL: While economists are largely positive, anti-gambling groups are warning that the
one-off cheques will spur a similar spike in gambling to the one that erupted when the Howard
government introduced its baby bonus.

Rachael Brown has our report.

RACHAEL BROWN: Some sectors of the community are worried the payments will queue the wrong kind
jingling bells.

(Sound of pokie machines)

RACHAEL BROWN: Anti-pokies campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon says he thinks the payments will cause
a spike in pokies losses.

NICK XENOPHON: We know from the figures that were released after the Howard Baby Bonus that there
was a spike in pokies losses. In my home state, in South Australia, there was a jump of 18 per cent
compared to the same period the previous year.

And it is estimated by economists that there will be at least $250-million spent, of this bonus, on
gambling, and that's a real issue when you consider this is about economic stimulus. This is about
creating jobs.

RACHAEL BROWN: The economic climate though is a bit different now than it was when the Baby Bonus
was given out. You don't think people will be a little bit more prudent?

NICK XENOPHON: Well unfortunately when you look at the various assessments of stocks, it is the
gambling and booze stocks that seem to be faring better than most and this will be a huge bonus for
the executives of Tattersall's, of Aristocrat, of the poker machine giants. And including
Woolworths which is the biggest pokies baron in the country, in terms of a spike in their earnings.

RACHAEL BROWN: Would there have been better way to allocate these one-off payments?

NICK XENOPHON: I support those commentators who say that this payment should have been split in
two; one just before Christmas and one just after. My concern is that once this payment is spent in
the lead up to Christmas, that you will really see a very significant post-Christmas sale slump and
having it split in two may have been a better way.

RACHAEL BROWN: Talkback callers to local radio this morning baulked at the idea pensioners would
pour their payments down the pokies coin slots.

TALKBACK CALLER: We are all very concerned with how pensioners are going to spend their money and
whether they are going to waste it or whether it is going to be good for them, yet when we have tax
cuts, we are never so worried about how the middle class spend their money.

TALKBACK CALLER 2: We are not all halfwits and I have never heard anything so insulting in my life
as Barnaby Joyce and Abbott with their insulting remarks inferring that we are all going to go out
and pee it up against the wall or put it into poker machines.

That is why they sat on $20-billion worth of surplus over the years and never gave anybody
anything. You don't hear any advice coming out of Barnaby Joyce when farmers get these huge
subsidiaries do you?

RACHAEL BROWN: And in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall this afternoon, citizens say they have better
things to spend the payments on.

MELBOURNE CITIZEN: I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne and the money is going to go towards that.

MELBOURNE CITIZEN 2: Well, I hope to do a bit of shopping for furniture. We heard on the wireless
this morning that these people are going to be put theirs into children's education because they
felt they couldn't do it otherwise.

MELBOURNE CITIZEN 3: At the moment we are thinking about getting the instant lawn put in the front
of our place which is going to cost. So that would just about take up what we get. I think we get
$2100, a double.

RACHAEL BROWN: Some of the politicians are worried that some pensioners might be spending it on the
pokies. Do you think that is likelihood?

MELBOURNE CITIZEN 4: Well I don't, I must admit. I'll always go. I'll take me $50 occasionally and
go to the pokies but, no, that is about the limit.

RACHAEL BROWN: But not the whole grand?


RACHAEL BROWN: And World Vision's chief executive, the Reverend Tim Costello, was in the mall
giving out gifts to promote the Presents not Pokies campaign.

He offered a novel idea for a gift - one that he held in his arms, one that was mistaking my
microphone for lunch.

TIM COSTELLO: Buy a goat. A goat or some hens or even just a toilet will change the lives of
someone in the Third World.

RACHAEL BROWN: He is warning that gambling won't help the economy.

TIM COSTELLO: For every million dollars spent on pokies only two jobs, less than two jobs are
created. A million dollars spent taking people out to dinner, eating at restaurants, creates 20
jobs. A million dollars spent on retail creates about 10 jobs.

RACHAEL BROWN: But he says he is confident people will spend the Government's Christmas present

TIM COSTELLO: The economic package, I think is being spent the right way in putting it in the hands
of people who will go out and shop and spend.

ELEANOR HALL: That is World Vision's Tim Costello ending that report by Rachael Brown in Melbourne.