15 Feb

Legalization of Tasmanian Lottery could Fund New Heritage Tourism Campaign

Historic Church in TasmaniaIf there’s one thing every government needs, its money. Taxing paychecks, property, merchandise and services is the number one way to get it, but as every nation’s government has proven throughout history, it’s never enough to sustain the enormous budgets they filter through each year. As officials in Tasmania are quickly learning, the issuance of a lottery system is one way to get the job done.

The island state is currently debating whether or not to issue a Tasmanian Lottery. While the region is not opposed to gambling in general, being home to over 3,500 pokies across 187 hotels, pubs, clubs and casinos across the island, the government has never put any real merit into the value of a state-run lottery – that is, until now.

Officials all seem to agree that tourism is a prime route for bringing in additional funds. They also concur that focusing on the region’s many heritage sites would help tremendously to increase the number of tourists drawn to the island each year.

A subcommittee headed by Rob Valentine concluded that heritage buildings are one revenue-keg that Tasmania has failed to tap; one with high potential to positively impact the commonwealth’s economy. Unfortunately, there’s no contending the fact that Tasmania’s heritage buildings are in great need of repair, having been under-resourced for years.

Committee says Tasmanian Lottery is the Answer

Tasmanian LotteryWith no extra funds to push towards the restoration of these sites, the Legislative Council, which was tasked to conduct an inquiry into the matter, came back with the recommendation of issuing a Tasmanian Lottery.

“Funding is always going to be an issue,” said Valentine. “We’ve had a number of suggestions being made and of course the major one is a lottery.” Valentine noted that national lotteries have proven successful in obtaining supplemental income for governments in Britain and Western Australia, thus it would be well worth the state’s time to look closer at the practicality of launching a lottery in Tasmania.

“There needs to be innovative ways of raising money,” Valentine said.

The Legislative Council further recommended that, due to their unparalleled expertise on the matter, the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority extend its role to manage other areas, including Maria Island and the officer’s quarters of Eaglehawk Neck, which are presently governed by Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife.

Opposition to Tasmania Lottery

Not everyone was quick to acquiesce to the idea. Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie demonstrated his objection to a Tasmanian Lottery system. “The idea of relying on gambling to preserve heritage buildings is ridiculous,” contested Wilkie.

He noted that, “heritage is consistently one of the top three reasons for tourists visiting the state and the preservation of that heritage surely must be a fundamental budget priority for the State Government.”

Déjà vu?

This isn’t the first time the subject of a lottery has arisen in Tasmania. Just last year, federal Liberal MP Eric Hutchinson suggested the same plan to help boost tourism by funding heritage and special arts projects.

“You drive anywhere and you see them falling into disrepair,” he said in March. His National Heritage Lottery plan immediately gained the support of Greg Hunt, Minister of the Environment, and Australia’s Attorney General, Senator George Brandis.