Nakita Thomson

THE Greens want to give councils the power to get rid of the pokies altogether in their local government area under a proposal to phase out every machine within the next decade.

As part of an election promise, the party is planning to offer incentives to venues who voluntarily cancel licences before 2028 and compensate others.

But it wants to repeal the new 20-year licensing deal legislated by the state government last year, slated to come into effect in 2022, and replace it with a final six-year licence.

City of Greater Bendigo has taken an anti-gambling stance in the past two years to all associated proposals, including submitted opposition to Bendigo Stadium’s plan to put pokies into a White Hills pub it was leasing at the time.

That application was eventually rejected by the Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor Regulation, and Bendigo Stadium gave up the lease.

The council has also spoken out against The Bendigo Club’s bid to increase machines which was successful, and the All Seasons’ application to increase its operating hours. Councillors voted against the extension.

The Greens claim machines in Bendigo have cost players $173 million since 2014.

The party wants to introduce measures that limit amounts spent on gambling before it can phase out machines.

It plans to put in place $1 bet limits, $20 load limits and $200 cash out limits at venues.

Yesterday, the Greens promised it would boost funding by $200m over four years to community mental health services to cover people who were not eligible under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and more than $70m more for specific services including sexual safety, youth recovery care and youth clinicial services.

Bendigo East candidate Nakita Thomson said there were clinical graduates who would work in regional areas in the mental health sector.

“We know there is a large problem with mental health in Victoria yet we have little services,” she said.

Ms Thomson is a graduate in psychology.

“Bendigo is uniquely positioned to be hub for rural mental health services so that people don’t have to travel all the way to Melbourne,” she said.