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The Whitlams Throw Support Behind Community Anti-Pokies Campaign

28 January 2023 | 7:58 pm | Staff Writer

He's serious about blowing up the pokies

More The Whitlams, Black Stump Band More The Whitlams, Black Stump Band

A community campaign in suburban Brisbane has had a surprise boost with The Whitlams singer Tim Freedman throwing his support behind their push to stop a local bowlo being overtaken by pokies. 

"Those of us interested in healthy communities are upset to learn that Stafford Bowls Club could become a pokies venue," said Freedman in a social media post. "The tide is turning against pokies around the country and it's hard to believe that Brisbane Council have awarded this lease without proper process. Let's hope that they listen to the community."

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The Stafford Bowls Club is currently in a derelict state after, according to a Nine News report, the site was leased to Crushers Leagues Club in 2019. The building was left in disrepair before the council transferred to the Brisbane Racing Club without community consultation. According to the community group Stafford Hub Not Racing Club, there were a number of community groups willing to tender for the council-owned facility but the tender was never called, instead granting the lease to the racing club which intends to install bars and 76 pokies. Five Brisbane City Council members voted against the transfer while other councillors abstained due to 'conflicts of interest'. 

"We need to ask the community what they want and give them some options and that hasn't been done," said community group spokesperson Emma Haller to Nine News. 

"We really want something to happen (at the Bowls Club site)," said fellow spokesperson Tegan Guthrie, "It's just that.... is gambling the best option for Stafford?"

Hi everyone, thanks to your support - and some absolute stars Tegan Guthrie and Emma Haller - the Stafford Bowls Club story was picked up and run by Channel 9 tonight.

Posted by Samuel Lawrance on Wednesday, January 25, 2023

It's no surprise to fans, with Tim Freedman a long-time anti-pokies advocate. The Whitlams hit Blow Up The Pokies from 2000 was their highest charting hit and is getting a new lease on life with a new version from The Whitlams Black Stump Band currently climbing the Countrytown radio airplay charts, bringing a new audience to the song. The original was second single from their double platinum smash album Love This City

The Whitlams Black Stump Band was formed with the idea of creating more country-style songs including 'campfire' versions of The Whitlams classics. Blow Up The Pokies has a new time signature and pedal steel guitar, while Freedman explained that his country roots go way back in an earlier interview with The Music

“I’d liked Willie Nelson as a kid, Dad used to play him.” And early The Whitlams sets also tended to incorporate some country classics.

“In the early days when we travelled up and down the coast we’d have to do three or four sets and Stevie [Plunder, guitar] would pull out some Hank Williams and even Patsy Cline, we used to do Walkin’ After Midnight. I came at it more from Neil Young, and probably Lucinda Williams, and more the country-rock side of things."