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SCREAMING BLUE MURDER: On what planet does chairing a casino prevent involvement in a charity combating depression?

JeffkennettblueDo casinos really cause depression?

Does depression drive people to become customers of casinos?

In some cases, this may be true. But there is certainly no data to support the contention that it is generally or universally true.

To be sure, some people who get addicted to gambling, as with other addicts, can be prone to depression. Nearly 75% of Australians gamble and data suggests some 300,000 of the 10 million+ gamblers have a problem, or addiction. Some of them are afflicted by depression.

It’s a lot of people with problem gambling, albeit 3% of the total. Anti-gambling zealots don’t often refer to the fact that 97% of gamblers don’t have a problem with it at all.

But for those who do have an addiction or problem it makes no more sense to blame casinos – or gambling more broadly – for depression than it does to blame KFC for making fat customers depressed.

They may get depressed because they are fat, but blaming KFC is nonsensical.

It’s a true mania at the moment where we are on a desperate search to blame anyone or anything other than ourselves for what ails us.

You’re fat. It’s KFC’s fault. Or Coca Cola’s. Or your local fish ‘n’ chip shop. Or your parents.

You’ve lost your house or stolen from your boss to bet on horses or pokies. It’s the bookies’ fault. Or the pokie venues’ fault.

You can’t hold down a job. It’s society’s fault.

We’re more bleeding heart – and remain highly susceptible to public broadcaster sob stories – than most but there is a remarkable degree of bullsh*t in all of this.

And indeed there’s great inconsistency about it. We don’t normally blame wineries for alcoholism. Perhaps we once did. It was Al Capone’s fault.

And this inconsistent humbug reached its most absurd levels this week with some questioning whether former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett ought be barred from being involved in an anti-depression charity Beyond Blue, in which he has done unquestionably important work, and seeking the chairmanship of the parent company of a casino in Sydney.

The hysteria about gambling has most certainly donned its Arthur Fonzerelli leather jacket in full preparation to “jump the shark”.

We’re not sure whether the Packers ought to be able to appoint the chairman of a company in which they hold just 10% of the shares but that’s a matter for the 90% to resolve. But a matter of which we can be certain is that Jeff Kennett is eminently qualified to hold that office, should he desire to do so (which is in doubt). James Packer’s high praise of his Premiership was indeed correct and makes some of the unambitious crop of current state Premiers look like midgets indeed.

And despite many of us thinking Kennett was a highly effective Premier who did good things, this is what he had to say about the work he does at Beyond Blue:

“The work that I do at beyondblue is the most important work I have done to date in my life and that remains the case.”

The most important work I have done to date in my life, he said. More important to him than turning Victoria around from some of its darkest post-War days and being one of our longest-serving Premiers.

He takes the do-gooding pretty seriously.

And yet despite that serious contribution, Kennett gets savagely slagged for his do-gooding while there’s nothing said about the greedy, unimaginative, directors’ fee-trousering ticket-clippers who populate most Australian boards while doing very little for charitable causes unless it helps extend their social and business network. Kennett isn’t just attending board meetings, by all accounts, he’s very hands-on, being an active driver of its growth in making the community far more aware of mental health issues and far more sympathetic to those who suffer from its cruel affliction. Besides that, he essentially founded the organisation, shaming governments into funding it and raising its profile in the community to build private support too. It’s true social entrepreneurship of the kind many in the Left say they believe in.

Jeff Kennett is a force of nature. The fact that he turned some of that bias for action to build Beyond Blue into what it has become should be enough to shut up even the most stubborn and ideologically pre-occupied critics. Check out its annual report, its a $30+ million organisation that was just an idea when Kennett decided to make a difference a decade ago.

Instead of praising his achievement – or reaching into their pocket and giving some of their own money or time – it’s used by some as a big stick to whack him with.

This is the mania of nonsense that fuels the debate about gambling – and personal responsibility – in this country.


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  1. He caused a lot of depression in Victoria when he was Premier. Then when people could not stand it anymore they unceremoniously dumped him at an election he thought he would win. Beyond Blue was his way of trying to relieve some of that depression and get some kudos back. He still is a bastard, ask his wife.

    Posted by Vance | May 31, 2012, 22:28
  2. I find Ted Baillieu very depressing. Such high hopes but such a let down.

    Posted by Harry | May 31, 2012, 23:54
  3. Beyond Blue is a sick joke. This publicly funded organisation is already lumbered with Kennett, an insensitive homophobic loud-mouth dickhead, but that’s not enough. Another Liberal Party hack, Kate Carnell, has been made CEO. Kate is famous for inviting the public to destruction of Canberra Hospital turning it into a public circus, which led to the death of 12 year old Kate Bender. People with depression deserve better.

    Posted by Michelle | June 1, 2012, 0:49
  4. Yeah Vance…. A minority government = unceremonious dumping.

    Love your flair for exaggeration.

    The Brumby/Bracks joke caused 10x the depression than Kennett ever did.

    Posted by Anon | June 1, 2012, 1:11
  5. Kennetts bum chums, Ron Walker and Lloyd Williams, were given plenty of favours during Kennetts time in the job. Like all pollies, he expected dividends down the track. This is like Tony Blair taking up chairmanship of News Corp or Bracksy joining globalist scum KPMG.

    Posted by chris | June 1, 2012, 2:49
  6. Well if Packer gets his way, and this is all part of the strategy, Sydney will be burdened with a massive casino right in the middle of what was supposed to be public space (Bangaroo) despite NSW having a 1 Casino licence.

    Posted by Wake Up | June 1, 2012, 11:54
  7. why does Packer Junior need Kennett? Has Richo outlived his usefulness?

    Posted by the Insider | June 1, 2012, 14:08
  8. Jeff Kennett should stay away from James “Fatty” Packer’s (do all the Packers eat junk food) gambling den in Sydney.

    In Packers full page ad in the paper today the graph showed Crown in Melbourne doing well and Star in Sydney doing poorly.

    Perhaps the reason Sydney is doing poorly is that it is a corrupt and bankrupt convict state, has to many gambling dens (huge Leagues and RSL clubs), to many illegal firearms and to much organised crime. Why would anyone want to go out in Sydney including to Star.

    Stay here in Victoria Mr Kennett we need you to finish off the Kroger faction in the Liberal party.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | June 1, 2012, 14:29
  9. Its a bit like a cancer victim going to work for a tobaco company. Gambling is not a good look for Kennet. No surprise he is off to where the money is.

    Posted by LS | June 1, 2012, 18:10
  10. the insider – the Labour government in NSW is gone and soon the Federal commies will be gone so that could expalain Richo departure.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | June 1, 2012, 18:35
  11. Kennett never did and never will understand the meaning of “conflict of interest”.
    Its all about power and money, and Kennett loves both.

    Beyond Blue was just another means which he used to keep his ugly face in front of the cameras and never let us forget how great he is.

    As president of Hawthorn Football Club, gambling and the problems bought about by poker machines was far from his mind. The money they made was paramount.

    Posted by Bingo for me | June 1, 2012, 23:09
  12. He gets paid 240,000 a year to be chair of beyond blue. Everyone thinks he does it for nothing. Wake. Up Australia. He’s not doing charity work.

    Posted by Anon | June 2, 2012, 12:52
  13. I think the chairmanship of the parent company of a casino in Sydney should have no previous involvement in any charities which concern depression. How the hell will he be able to screw every cent out of those poor bastards on the crap table if he has a conscience or feels empathy for the gamblers.

    Posted by Glen Ulmarra | June 2, 2012, 19:05
  14. Does Jeff still beat his wife outside his house?

    Posted by anon | June 2, 2012, 20:43
  15. Who better to understand what causes depression. Jeff is a star. Most of the people , if not all, commenting on this blogsite would not know anything about depression. Jeff does and has invested his life after politics into Beyond Blue. A great asset for the Star casino. Good on you Jeff!

    Posted by Anonymous | June 3, 2012, 2:18
  16. Kennett needs to decide if he wants to reduce depression in society or increase it. He cannot do both

    Posted by Be decisive jeffy | June 4, 2012, 12:26