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backsliding on pokies reform « Previous | |Next »
January 23, 2012

Pokies reform has ground to a slow grind. Andrew Wilkie did not have the numbers in the House of Representatives and the NSW backbench of the Labor Party was scared off by the campaign run by Clubs Australia against mandatory pre-commitment. It's another indication of the lack of political courage given the public support for pokies reform.

What we have is a delayed introduction to mandatory pre-commitment, slipping out to 2016, and only after a "full trial" of the measures in Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory from February 2013.

MoirApokiesLose.jpg

Mandatory pre-commitment has already been trialled in South Australia, in Queensland and in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia (see the Productivity Commission). These showed a significant number of gamers used the pre-commitment schemes to monitor and limit their daily expenditure. That means reduced income for the clubs.

Malcolm Farnsworth in Poker machine doublespeak at The Drum says that it was an expedient exercise in placating the powerful clubs industry, especially in New South Wales and Queensland:

the Government is utterly disingenuous about what's really going on.Clubs Australia has got its way again. Gillard has caved into its pressure just as surely as she rolled over for the mining industry when she watered down the mining tax.She has also caved into pressure from nervous members of the ALP caucus. As in so many other areas, the Government is incapable of fighting back in support of its policy positions. They prefer appeasement.

He states that the Gillard Labor Government couldn't even follow through on Gilllard written agreement with Wilkie and put the proposal to an up or down vote in the House. The numbers aren't there, Gillard says, but they ought to have fought for the reform.

I appreciate that the Gillard Govt is currently blamed for everything that happens or doesn't happen, but the ALP right wing power brokers, by cutting Wilkie loose in this way, will reinforce the negative perception fostered by the Coalition that this represents another broken promise. They opposition have a track record of successfully mining the vein of trust and conviction and the ALP continues to feed them.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:50 PM | | Comments (6)
Comments

Comments

I never expected to be impressed with a Gillard government, but this is woeful in policy and political terms.

If Gillard had been elected with a majority and was in a position to put up her own agenda, would it involve something other than cowering in a corner?

Lyn,
I reckon that the ALP didn't do very much to persuade the Independents--Tony Crook, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor --to support pokies reform.

They didn't really want pokies reform--it wasn't their agenda. It was a policy cobbled together in the 17 days of interregnum in 2010 because at the time it was very important to Andrew Wilkie.

So they've welshed because Wilkie can no longer hold a gun to their head.

"Gillard Labor Government couldn't even follow through on Gilllard written agreement with Wilkie and put the proposal to an up or down vote in the House."

Yes. A bill implementing Gillard's commitment to Wilkie could have been introduced in order to test the opposition and crossbench MPs. Its failure would have been evidence of a good faith attempt to fulfil a commitment. Wilkie could not have asked for more.

It's bad politics. It leaves a smell--that hangs around the ALP Right.

Pokie machines are addictive because they're designed to be says Michael Challinger in The Age:

A rapid succession of stake-and-play is interspersed with frequent small payouts. Lights flash, bells ring, jackpot winners are announced over loudspeakers. Unlike discontinuous forms of gambling - there are intervals between horse races or the deal of the cards or the spin of the roulette wheel - the pokies never stop. The '80s inquiry found poker machines to be the most pernicious and addictive of all forms of gambling.

They gamble away their own money, then their family's, then money they embezzled from employers or friends. What they do isn't just self-destructive, it is criminal. The law requires they pay a price.


Many MPs, especially in NSW, were openly hostile to Wilkie's demands because of the grief they were getting from the clubs lobby.The former prime minister Kevin Rudd was using the dissent as leverage for his push to take back the leadership

"by cutting Wilkie loose in this way, will reinforce the negative perception fostered by the Coalition that this represents another broken promise. They opposition have a track record of successfully mining the vein of trust and conviction and the ALP continues to feed them. "

The Coalition will do this by targeting the allegations of misuse of union funds involving NSW Labor MP Craig Thomson. This will be the lever to construct a case for no-confidence.

The tactic is to continue with the strategy of destabilizing the Gillard Government. He needs Andrew Wilkie to pull the plug though.