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The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will not support the Government’s draft National Gambling Reform Bills 2012 until the troubled Canberra trial is remedied and/or until $1 maximum bets are legislated.

``When the Prime Minister reneged on her written commitment for meaningful poker machine reform I indicated in-principle support for the Government’s watered down proposal,’’ Mr Wilkie said.

``But from expert advice I better understand now that the Government’s plan to trial mandatory pre-commitment in the ACT is problematic. And this compromises the Government’s Bill because the weak measures in the legislation only have value if they are the stepping stone to good reform.’’

Mr Wilkie said the location of the trial is problematic.

``Canberra is not a typical poker machine area and there’s also the likelihood of leakage into New South Wales,’’ he said.

``Moreover the planned trial is too short to give accurate data while at the same time it could be seen as an industry delaying tactic. Also the involvement of the poker machine industry in the design and conduct of the trial risks throwing up misleading results.

``There is also the significant matter of the conflict of interest on account of the Labor Party being set to profit from the very large sum of public money that will paid to Clubs ACT.’’

Mr Wilkie said the proposed reform also misses the opportunity to include the Productivity Commission’s recommendation that $1 maximum bets be rolled out with mandatory pre-commitment.

``In light of all this I’ve decided to only support the Government’s watered down poker machine reform package if the problems with the Canberra trial are unambiguously fixed.

``I’ve raised these concerns this week with the Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin, and she has made a commitment to work through the issues which gives me hope that the trial can be remedied.

``But if the Canberra trial can’t be remedied then the Government’s Bill must be amended to include the requirement for poker machines to be $1 maximum bet capable in addition to pre-commitment capable, and for that $1 maximum bet capability to be activated in the event of a negative trial result of pre-commitment.

``Grow a backbone Prime Minister and say ‘no more’ to the $12bn pokies industry and the dreadful harm they inflict on hundreds of thousand of Australians. Because if you can’t stand for that, then what do you stand for?”

• POKIES LOSS FIGURES REVEAL AN UNENDING TRAGEDY
Losses Top $212-Million in 2011

Kim Booth MP
Greens Gaming Spokesperson

The Tasmanian Greens today said that the most recent monthly in-arrears statistics on poker machine losses had once again highlighted Labor and Liberal parties’ refusal to tackle the root causes of poker machine addiction. [1]

Greens Gaming spokesperson Kim Booth MP said that harm minimisation measures announced today by the Tasmanian Gaming Commission were a step in the right direction, but the cause at the pokies-end still needs to be tackled.

Mr Booth said the latest Treasury figures showed Tasmanians lost $212,463,531 to poker machines in 2011, and stood to lose more than a billion dollars before Federal Labor’s promised reforms took effect in late 2016.

“Tasmanians collectively lost a whopping $17,793,852 in December last year, bring the total losses for the 2011 calendar year to more than $200-million dollars,” Mr Booth said.

“This horrifying figure is exactly why Tasmania has to go it alone with its own $1 betting limit, which would drastically reduce the rate at which poker machines can gobble up addicts’ money.”

“These harm minimisation measures are a step in the right direction, but the single most effective measure to reduce the impact of pokies addiction – short of a ban on poker machines – would be to introduce a $1 bet limit.”

“The shocking figures for pokie losses last year are another stark example of the callousness Labor has shown to poker machine addicts and their families by refusing to take any meaningful action on poker machine reform.”

“While the Federal Labor Party has been busy watering down its promised poker machine reforms, Tasmanian poker machine addicts were busy losing tens of millions of dollars to these family-wrecking machines.”

“Tasmania cannot afford to sit around and wait for Federal Labor Party to decide whether it’s prepared to stand up to the gaming barons by supporting genuine measures to end poker machine addiction.”

“The Greens are also calling on the Liberal Opposition Leader Will Hodgman to show some backbone for the first time in his political career, by backing the Greens’ push for Tasmania to go it alone on betting limits.”

“The Liberals had a policy supporting $1 bet limits, but backflipped when given an opportunity by the Greens to vote on legislation,” Mr Booth said.

[1] Tasmanian Gaming Commission figures for Electronic Gaming Machine Expenditure by Rolling Year:

http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/alls-v/CD36BFC11D136484CA2575E10006E703