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151 responses to “Pokies, Andrew Wilkie and all that”

  1. muz

    someone who gets it. factions are killing australia

  2. Tom

    We’re seeing a continuing pattern, one which actually goes back to the Rudd government and to Labor in opposition, of ‘clever’ short term political tactics which sooner or later backfire spectacularly. The notion of strategy, and of a sustained argument for a case based on values apparently eludes the post-Keating Labor Party.

    The part that has me confused is that the political motivation for this move is supposedly to get an ‘inevitable’ failure on pokies reform ‘out of the way’ prior to getting on with doing damage to the Coalition in areas where its credibility is poor.

    This government spends such a lot of time on trying to decide the ground, and so little on actually fighting for its supposed values.

  3. Lefty E

    well said Kim. Its just appalling hopeless strategy – and I dare say this goes back to two things:

    1. having unaccountable behind the scenes figures essentially in charge of the party (who can be easily bought, and never have to account to the public). This one has got far worse since Rudd (with a popular mandate) was rolled.

    2. Having too many late 20-soemthings with no life or real political experience behind them in advisory roles. Why? Because no one with a family can work for them – they’re slavers, and you have to choose between work and family. This one goes back to Rudd.

    Under Howard, for all that his policies might have sucked, you never got the sense that it hadnt been checked against all contingincies. There’s every chance Slipper will get offered ambassador to X under Abbott, and Wilkie will be making Gillard eat a shit sandwhich called “madnatory pre-committment” come May. In which case, she should simply resign, having screwed up beyond the pale.

  4. Lefty E

    Yeah, brilliant plan. Having unexpectedly gained a number on Abbott – lets dump it!

    That cant possibly go wrong!

  5. patrickg

    The most annoying thing, for me, is that between this and the RRT, every bloody special interest group and its dog will be ponying up the cash for mind-deadeningly stupid ad campaign – and let’s face it, it’ll probably work. Is this how governance is supposed to work??

    Our political system heads more and more to America’s every day, and I fear for the democracy my kid’s gonna inherit.

    The fact that Labor continue to go lower than my expectations is kind of amazing, in a stupefying way.

  6. Lefty E

    Secretly, Keating and Hawke must have nothing but contempt for this lot. Shilly-shallying in the breeze.

    front just ONE cashed up lobby and win, and the whole ‘parasite defends rent-seeking behaviour’ mode of politics becomes a bad financial investment.

  7. wilful

    Yes I can only agree. Though I find it hard to blame Wilkie at all, he may be intransigent, but when dealing with Labor wouldn’t you have to be? I’m sure he would have accepted another equally painful (for the clubs) way of reducing the impact of gambling.

    One other thing that disgusts me is that this policy of attacking pokies (never mind the details) is actually popular. Gillard is so craven she can’t even do what’s popular.

    Thank god we have preferential voting. Imagine if you had to actually vote for the ALP next election in order to stop Abbott? Not sure I could do it.

  8. patrickg

    It’s also worth remembering the Wilkie well knows he’s almost certainly going to be a one-term wonder – no doubt that inspires much of his urgency; he wants to get something done while he still has a chance to do it.

    People love going one about what an priggish arsehole he is, etc. Frankly, I don’t care that much; he’s doing more for victims of gambling addiction than anyone else in parliament atm.

  9. Doug

    Lefty E – you are right about the problem of twenty something advisers. As an ex-ppblic servant I can say that there inability to advise Ministers on the substance of policy is a blot on the landscape.

    The problem though goes well back beyond Rudd and has been coming for the past 15-20 years. Back in the mid eighties most ministers in major portfolios had senior advisers who had some background in the relevant policy areas. That sadly is no longer the case. Most advisers have no substantive experience and little understanding of how the public service operates and what their own role should be – besides ticking the boxes for a climb up the political greasy poll/

  10. conrad

    “Yep, maybe I’ve been a bit hard on Willkie, but it does seem to me that mandatory pre-commitment is not necessarily the best policy response”

    What are you suggesting would work better?

  11. Sam

    And yet this very same government is really going after the tobacco industry. Who smokes? The same people who play the pokies.

    All the complaints from the tobacco lobby have been brushed off with contempt.

    Curious, no?

  12. Liam

    Good post Kim. I’ll have a go at some of the comments though.

    What are you suggesting would work better?

    Tossing the problem back to the States where they originated, and making them face up to the revenue dependency problem poker machines in pubs caused, would be one. Hey Premiers: get tough or start solving infrastructural problems on your own.

    Or just taxing the fuck out of them, or putting licences for entry into the industry so steep any pub would only ever consider putting in one cent machines somewhere in a shameful unpromoted corner.

    Most advisers have no substantive experience and little understanding of how the public service operates

    I prefer my Ministers advised by people outside public service cliques, but that’s just me.

    Thank god we have preferential voting. Imagine if you had to actually vote for the ALP next election in order to stop Abbott? Not sure I could do it.

    You don’t have optional preferential in Federal elections, alas, only State ones. You have to give either the Coalition or the ALP a preference somewhere down the ballot paper.

  13. patrickg

    I prefer my Ministers advised by people outside public service cliques, but that’s just me.

    The alternative: party careerists and apparatchiks is worse, surely?

  14. Liam

    I trust the NSW Labor Right a lot more than I trust any Treasury official, and you know how I feel about the Right.

    Seriously, we used to have Ministers advised by competent and experienced officials with careers in their Departments. That’s the stuff Fitzgerald Inquiries are made of.

  15. Siggy

    My thoughts exactly. My heart sank when I heard this news. I think the Australian electorate is hanging out for a leader with a little courage. I think Gillard could be that leader that’s the disappointing thing.

  16. Katz

    It’s not hard to distinguish between fags and pokies. Tobacco is peddled by major multinationals. Pokies are the life blood of thousands of community and service organisations.

    This fact helps to explain why the pokies issue is so fraught. Being accused of killing the local bowls club is electoral poison that Gillard doesn’t want to drink.

    Gillard cannot acknowledge that this is her motivation because no one wants to acknowledge that the bowls club stays afloat on a sea of misery filed with the tears of gaming addicts and their suffering families.

  17. Mercurius

    @22, yerbut Katz, if that is what is keeping local clubs afloat, in what sense do they *deserve* to continue their existence?

    I mean, heck, the cotton farms will be unviable without slavery!? Think of the jerrrrbs destroyed!!

  18. Hoa minh Truong

    Julia Gillard is the real socialism pattern, likely any communist member, the characters frequently telling lie by propaganda. Actually in the low-tide revolution, promise anything and broken after seized the power, a stage of high-tide revolution.
    Julia Gillard said no challenge with her beloved comrade Kevin Rudd on top job, but few days later, she did. In the election campaign, she confirmed no carbon tax, but she did few months after taken P.M position.
    Mr. Andrew wilkie hasn’t learnt yet the lessons about Julia Gillard record while seeing her turn away the face from internal and external Labor. So he has became the next victim of the socialist in the democratic country. His believes on the reform poke machine has been changed to night mare. Mr. Tont Winssor and Rob Oakshott have to learn Wilkie lesson, if they don’t want to be the next victims.
    Hoa Minh Truong.
    ( author of the dark journey & good evening Vietnam)

  19. Katz

    Gillard had absolutely no intention of meddling in pokie politics until Wilkie bent her over a barrel and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, until Slipper slid into the picture.

    Your local bowls club member understands this well enough.

  20. kymbos

    This has been dispiriting me for the past week. My worst fears have been realised. This Government is such a disappointment to me.

  21. Mercurius

    @25

    *backs away slowly*

  22. Liam

    Kim, I tend to think poker machines were a problem created by the States (NSW in particular) and are going to have to be solved there. And by Councils I might add.

    Pokies’ve got everything to do with how we plan city social infrastructure, they’re totally unlike cigarettes or other public health problems in that regard.

  23. Katz

    Merc, to state the case is not to advocate the case.

    I think pokies are abominations. Trouble is, many don’t. These folks vote and they join community and social clubs. One club I belong to is trying to wean itself off pokies. It’s a tough ask.

  24. Liam

    Oh, because they’re muppets, we all know that.

  25. Chris

    Liam – one problem with pushing the problem to the states is that they have to work together – otherwise people end up traveling interstate to play them. There were regular pokies buses from Adelaide until pokies were allowed locally. Have the same problem at the council level too. The clubs use the pokie revenue to cross subsidise cheap meals so venues without pokies are at an immediate disadvantage. This is one reason why it needs to be addressed at the federal level.

    Perhaps one solution would be to treat them like cigarettes . Slowly but regularly increase taxes on revenue and explicitly divert the money to local groups that currently get the funding.

  26. Nickws

    In substance PK’s last term was exactly the kind of legislative placeholding operation that this current government has not been. And I reckon he probably employed nearly as many stiffs in post-uni make-work jobs as Gillard does today (PM was herself a paid student union official in the eighties IIRC, so it’s not like make believe positions haven’t been available to young Labor comers for some time now.)

    Those strawmen aside, yes, there is a distinct Carter-style leadership malaise in the current government when it comes to connecting with us and all the other punters. I just don’t think it’s any worse today just because they threw Colonel Mustard overboard on the weekend RE a bill that would never have passed anyway.

    Yep, maybe I’ve been a bit hard on Willkie

    No, for consider this: anti-war activist Wilkie has never made any such public demand on the government about our Afghanistan committment, and if he did so privately then he had to wait from the first day he entered the House until late last year to finally see some progress in that Area Of His Expertise.

    Something is not right with Andrew Wilkie’s belief system. It doesn’t translate into the sort of political coherence we get from someone like Xenophon. He is not an effective servant of the public interest.

  27. John D

    Sounds like you have all been brainwashed by the Murdoch press. If Gillard had put the Wilkie legislation up and it was defeated it would have been difficult to get any anti-gambling legislation up for years.(Keep in mind that neither Windsor or Oakenshot were willing to support it.
    What it looks like now is that some action will take place even if it doesn’t quite match what Wilkie wanted.
    If anyone is to be condemned it is independents who have got what they were promised but won’t back what Wilkie wanted.

  28. tssk

    Sam @ 16.

    Watch as the tobacco industry does the same thing as the clubs and the mining companies.

    Won’t work will hurt etc.

    They might even be compensated by the government.

    I have only one thing to add to Kim’s excellent piece.

    Is there any point in stopping an Abbott Prime-Ministershipif their strategy is to adopt all of his policies? We seem to have it already by proxy.

    This….this is what I was afraid of.

  29. JimmyC

    @16. Is there any point in warding off an Abbott government if Labor adopts all of Abbott’s policies? No. There is an “if” in there however.

    Kim’s post and most of the comments here are spot on. This government is scraping the barrel atm. But I guarantee you there is one policy area which could become a great deal worse under Abbott – asylum seekers.

    I’ve worked with asylum seekers for 10 years now and Labor policy in 2007/08 showed promise. It is now still sh*t of course. But I still remember 2001-2005 and I swear, I don’t think I could handle that again – let alone the people inside those centres.

    So please remember. Anything. Anything is better than an Abbott government.

  30. Lefty E

    Well, my attitude is those clubs can float on a sea of $1 max bet misery instead. Plenty of money still to be made. Way less misery. productivity commission agrees. End of story.

    Honestly, this manichean equation is quite bollocks: we can easily have viable clubs without fleecing addicts. And if a few die off – well, really, who cares.

    I might add – almost half of pokie venues are NOT clubs: http://www.med.monash.edu.au/healthsci/publications/files/egm-interim-report.pdf

  31. AT

    patricg @ 10 – not according to the vox pops on ABC this afternoon. Soundly and roundly pro Wilkie in Hobart – including several converts and new admirers …

  32. Roger Jones

    V good post. Despair. Yes.

  33. Fran Barlow

    I won’t paste in what I said in the other thread

  34. Fran Barlow

    Anything. Anything is better than an Abbott government

    Unless it is Abbott’s policies being carried out by the ALP … that wouldn’t be better. It might be worse.

  35. wmmbb

    Jennifer Borrell argued in The Sydney Morning Herald the cravenness of political leaders, including the prime minister, adds another dimension by suggesting there is a danger to democracy. In part she wrote:

    The inroads made by the pokie industry into democratic process are even more insidious than suggested by recent events. As explained by Dr Peter Adams, the University of Auckland’s associate professor of social and community health, civic institutions such as academic and research bodies, media, government agencies and community organisations provide the basis for the social involvement that underpins our democracy. He argues that our very democracy comes under threat when gambling revenue influences day-to-day decisions and processes within such vital institutions.

    This co-option of civic institutions may be subtle and incremental or it may be blatant, as in the case of mega-pokie businesses in New South Wales using their club credentials and mobilising their membership for commercial advantage. In either case, the cumulative effect is the shaping of public views which, in turn, affects government policy and regulation. In this way, the influence of gambling revenue infiltrates every level and crevice of civic life, further entrenching the power of gambling industries while weakening us all as a society. . .

  36. Chris Grealy

    Can’t agree. For Wilkie and the Greens to complain because the timeframe of his proposal was impossible is too precious for belief. Gilliard negotiated in good faith, and has so far held the government together. She’s doing her job and doing it well.

  37. Katz

    Honestly, this manichean equation is quite bollocks: we can easily have viable clubs without fleecing addicts. And if a few die off – well, really, who cares.

    Spoken like a man whose job description does not include “win general elections”.

    The major problem of the Fed Govt in relation to this issue isn’t the broken promise. Rather, it was their neglect to counter the propaganda of the gaming lobby.

  38. joe2

    “The major problem of the Fed Govt in relation to this issue isn’t the broken promise. Rather, it was their neglect to counter the propaganda of the gaming lobby.”

    And how do you think they might have done that when the msm had no intention of touching it?

    Woolworths and Coles are not clients that they had any intention of offending and, as we know, the ABC does not do that kind of stuff anymore.

  39. Socrates

    LeftyE is correct about the real nature of who has the poker machines and where the money goes. Most poker machines are not in the local bowls club. Most are in sporting, RSL or other venues that are multi-million dollar businesses. Most of the money (> 80%) is not returned.

    As for winning general elections, I would have thought that having policies with majority support, and not ripping your own credibility to shreads, might help.

  40. Ambigulous

    Nickws @ 34,

    I thought it was the invasion of Iraq that Mr Wilkie spoke against?

    He may well see the war in Afghanistan in a different light.

  41. Guy

    Great post Kim. Despair is the right word…

  42. Fine

    I’m rather bemused by the reaction this is causing. When was mandatory pre-commitment ever Labor policy? Who here nominated pokies as a key policy issue that Labor had to do something about, before the last election? This isn’t climate change, refugees, education, health, or economic policy. This is the passion of one man who happened to unexpectedly gain a position of power and has attempted to parlay that into the change he wants to see. Nothing wrong with that and I respect Wilkie. But, he lost his bet.

    Is mandatory pre-commitment the best way of combatting problem gambling? I’ve heard really mixed responses to that question. Do we even know it’s good policy? Or is this just an excuse to huff and puff about the horrors of Labor? As for the line that we should vote for Abbott because Labor is implementing Coalition policy anyway – the mind boggles. This was never Coalition policy. It’s Wilkie’s policy. In policy terms it’s a tiny issue. And as Liam has pointed out, it’s State governments who introduced pokies, so the States should solve the problem.

    I agree that in strategic terms, it has become a major issue and it may well have been more effective to take it to the House of Reps for a vote, whilst knowing it wouldn’t get up. I agree Gillard hasn’t been smart about it. But the politics is a different issue than the policy.

  43. Katz

    And how do you think they might have done that when the msm had no intention of touching it?

    Yep. Sometimes politicians need to acknowledge that tactical withdrawal is the only sensible course of action.

    Socrates:

    Most poker machines are not in the local bowls club. Most are in sporting, RSL or other venues that are multi-million dollar businesses. Most of the money (> 80%) is not returned.

    All AFL football clubs, for example, are non-profit organisations. They don’t make profits. By law, any surplus must be invested in the club. No investors derive a profit from the operations of non-profit or community organisations such as bowls clubs or AFL football clubs. The same applies to RSL Clubs.

    You need to understand these facts if you intend to make sensible comments.

  44. Paul Norton

    A good and insightful post, Kim. Unfortunately.

  45. Lefty E

    Katz – pubs and casinos are for profit orgs. I’ve been trying to find figures, which are state by state and therefore hard to compile – but in Vic for example it’s almost half of machines and revenue

    Clubs are an important case. Let’s not collide in the presence that it’s the only case.

  46. tssk

    The big takeaways from this are this.

    1. The ALP is now hopelessly nobbled. The moment legislation gets hard an ad campaign will completely throw them. FFS the clubs are actually going to be BETTER off from this. We’re actually going to be paying them compensation in the tune of millions to compensate them for changes that won’t be passed now.

    2. The ALP has had it’s majority cut by one, possibly two. Don’t kid yourself, the Lib’s are probably already whispering into Slipper’s ear about the ALP’s duplicity. “Look how they shafted Wilkie? Think you’re immune? Come back into the fold.”

    The only hope I could see would be Rudd retaking the reins and that would lead to brief satisfaction for 24 hours. In that 24 hours the media, the mining industry and the clubs would do him over leaving what was left to be dismissed by the G-G for the sake of stability.

    Or is this part of some long plan I’m too stupid to understand?

    The ALP. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since the 90′s.

  47. Lefty E

    Collude in the pretence. Damn iPhone

  48. Paul Norton

    Whatever criticisms one might make of Wilkie’s approach to the matter, the most concerning aspect of this affair is one which took on a life of its own, namely that a cashed-up lobby group ran a cashed-up campaign to (once again) bring about a policy reversal or weakening by the current Federal government, and virtually nobody in the government or the ALP seemed to have the will or the capacity, or understand the necessity, to counter-campaign and counter-mobilise against it, nor was the government able to handle the denouement of the issue in a way which avoided the impression that it was no longer even trying to resist the lobby group pressure.

  49. Terry

    What to do about the power of Clubland and the problem of pokies addiction remains a big issue, in NSW in particular as the state govt. is so dependent on pokies revenue. But it was not going to be sorted out in the timeframe associated with Wilkie’s ultimatum, so someone was going to end up the loser here.

    Going ahead with a vote that was binding on all ALP MPs in the House of Reps would have meant electoral carnage in Sydney in particular, as the entire forces of not only Clubs Australia but of the National Rugby League and its allies would have been arrayed against them . Not an issue in the electorate of Denision, sure, but it culd have led to a near wipeout of the Federal ALP between the Hunter and the Illawarra, with albanese (Grayndler) and Plibersek (Sydney) the only survivors.

    The MPs at risk were:

    Banks – Daryl Melham
    Barton – Robert McClelland
    Blaxland – Jason Clare
    Chifley – Ed Husic
    Dobell – Craig Thomson
    Eden-Monaro – Mike Kelly
    Fowler – Julie Irwin
    Greenway – Michelle Rowland
    Kingsford-Smith – Peter Garrett
    Lindsay – David Bradbury
    McMahon – Chris Bowen
    Parramatta – Julie Owens
    Reid – John Murphy
    Robertson – Deb O’Neill
    Watson – Tony Burke
    Werriwa – Laurie Ferguson

    Now some of these would not be particularly missed and/or are probably gone anyway (Thomson – Dobell; Bradbury – Lindsay), but there are also some significant players in any current or future ALP government there.

    It is worth noting, BTW, that Tony Abbott has virtually walked away from the pokies issue now. He has shifted the spotlight back to Craig Thomson, aided and abetted by Thomson’s remarkable decision to take personal credit for Julia Gillard’s decision in Labor’s favorite newspaer, The Daily Telegraph.

  50. adrian

    Correct joe2. This assumption that politics in Australia operates in some sort vacuum where Labor simply has to communicate better and it would all be reported fairly and all would be OK is a load of bollocks.

    Admittedly Gillard is a lousy communicator, but it wouldn’t make much difference how good she was on this or many other issues. The MSM have their corporate friends to look after, and yes the ABC doesn’t do much that could be classed as journalism anymore.

  51. Katz

    I agree LE.

    The ALP made no attempt to drive a wedge between the profit and the non-profit sector.

    For example, corporate pokies could have been taxed or regulated at different levels to the non-profit sector. Such schemes are not beyond the wit of man.

    Instead, the Govt drove the sectors together for mutual protection. Did Gillard intend this result? Now, that’s an interesting question.

  52. Lefty E

    Yes, interesting specualtions Katz. ‘For profit’ pokie venues already have different community benefit requirements, so there’s a track record there. I spose it would have meant taking on Packer.

    This country is run by robber barons, and rent-seeking parasites.

    On the “NSW would’ve been slaughtered meme” – oh puhlease, check the polls. 62% of Australians in favour, 25% against. http://www.essentialmedia.com.au/wp-content/themes/rockwell/documents/essential_report_120123.pdf

    And yes it drops a bit in NSW, but to 52 / 34%. My sense is the NSW ALP could use a few issues with *that much* popular support. The havent seen numbers like that at Sussex St since Debnam modelled for Speedo.

    And QLD: 54 / 30. This is considered a vote loser? No wonder the ALP is in such dire straits.

  53. Brizben

    I personally see the whole discussion of Wilkie being betrayed as poisoning Australian political discourse. The only people betrayed are the families of pokie addicts.

    Quite frankly I do not think Gillard cares about the families of pokie addicts.

    The discussions about how Gilliard could pretend to care by blame shifting to Wilkie are cynical.

  54. Socrates

    Katz

    When I referred to “other venues” I was referring to profit making organisations as LeftyE described. I think we both agree there is no case for protecting them. As LE said, the non-profits have been used as a trojan horse to protect proft venues from regulation. As you said, Labor made no attempt to split the two, being financially dependent on both.

    But even the case for protecting all non-profit clubs is becoming tenuous. the definition of charity and non-profit organisations in Australia is vague, effectively decided by the ATO, and open to abuse. When a sporting organisation has a CEO paid more than the PM it has ceased to be a charity/non-profit in my view. I would argue that it has become an untaxed business enterprise with the CEO/executives replacing shareholders. Many sporting clubs are now in that category. There have been numerous instances of these individuals running such organisations primarily to financially benefit themselves. Any cases have involved fraud. So saying pokies benefit non-profits doesn’t justify anything.

  55. Paul Norton

    Lefty E @60, I suspect that the figures you cite would be met with the same sort of argument that the ALP Right put for years after the 1988 NSW election about why it had to soft-soap the gun lobby. That is, it would be argued that the majorities in favour of pokies reform would not feel particularly strongly about the issue relative to others that might shift their vote, whereas the minorities opposed would obsess about the issue (and no other issue) from now until their next chance to vote out the ALP. This argument would persist until a government had the bottle to implement reform and did not suffer electoral Armageddon (think Howard after Port Arthur).

  56. Socrates

    Lefty E

    There are figures on the split of turnover and revenue for the gambling industry in chapter 2 of the PC report.
    http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/95688/05-chapter2.pdf

    See particularly Figure 2.1, which puts it in a neat chart.

    Some key points in Ch 2 and Ch 6:
    - gambling in 2009 was $19 billion – more than spending on alcohol ($12B) and nearly as much as footwear and clothing ($23B)
    - cassinos are only 18% of the revenue; 55% are pubs and clubs
    - about 26% of gambling revenue is taxes; it is 10% of State revenues
    - employment benefits are greatly overstated; this is all about revenue and tax, not employment
    - community contributions are less than 2% of gambling revenue; it makes almost no difference to the amount of voluntary work carried out.

  57. Socrates

    Further to post 63, there is some interesting stuff in Ch 6 of the inquiry:
    http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/95692/09-chapter6.pdf

    Both volunteering and employment on sporting facilities actually falls with increased gambling revenue. So does participation levels in sport.

    Instead the clubs morph into the untaxed entertainment businesses I referred to, enriching their executives, and the community benefits dwindle. I say again, the case to leave “non-profits” out of any reform is very poor.

  58. faustusnotes

    I agree with Fine, and I would remind everyone that there is zero chance that an Abbott govt would ever touch pokies – plus they’d do everything they could to roll back anti tobacco measures. And remember they were willing to die in a ditch over some pathetic legislation on pre-mixed drinks. Abbott and his chums are not friends of public health or public order, and they are openly in the pockets of the organizations running the governance-destroying campaigns everyone here is whinging about.

    Under an Abbott govt there will be no cashed-up lobby groups running ad campaigns against govt policy because all the policy will have already been cleared with them. If you’re worried about governance, worry about Abbott and his cronies. And if you’re worried about Abbott and his cronies, don’t ask Gillard labor to die in a ditch implementing Andrew Wilkie’s second-rate policies on a state issue.

  59. Katz

    Socrates:

    Many sporting clubs are now in that category. There have been numerous instances of these individuals running such organisations primarily to financially benefit themselves. Any cases have involved fraud. So saying pokies benefit non-profits doesn’t justify anything.

    Members of the club I belong to can sack the executive. Each member has one vote regardless of equity in the club. Imagine if BHP were governed in the same way.

    The executives of such clubs achieve re-election by meeting the expectations of members. As I have said, it’s a hard sell to convince members of many clubs that pokies aren’t beneficial for the interests of the club. There has never been the least allegation of fraud in the operation of that club since its adoption of pokies. But as I said elsewhere, many members are uncomfortable about associations with pokies.

  60. derrida derider

    Sheesh, Wilkie had no choice but to run a lot harder on the pokies than on any other issues – he was elected specifically as a single-issue No Pokies candidate, not as (say) an antiwar candidate.

    I wouldn’t be so bitter about Gillard’s cowardice if I thought it was done out of a correct and necessary political calculation. But instead she has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    As Left E@60 above shows, the clubs’ campaign had failed utterly . If only any reforms in this country could maintain that much public support! Those ugly Western Sydney MPs have confused noise and power; they were and are in infinitely more danger from the government’s reputation for unprincipled incompetence than from Clubs Australia.

    She should have put the bill to parliament and put every MP – the NSW right, Wilkie, the other independents and the opposition – on the spot. Even if it failed and Wilkie still walked away then she’d be no worse off than now, but with the difference that her reputation as a liar would not be enhanced.

  61. Lefty E

    Exactly, DD.

    Thaks for the link, Socrates, but again, its frstrating that there’s no revenue breakdown *between* pubs (for profit) and clubs (not for). The best I can see is dedicated national gambling venue breakdowns at table 2.6:

    Casinos 13
    Hotels 3363
    Clubs 2320

    Clubs would apear to be a minority of gambling venues.

  62. derrida derider

    faustus@65, I think you are in danger of the almost impossible – doing Abbott an injustice. I reckon an Abbott goverment will have relatively strong principles – its just that you and won’t like a lot of them.

    Social conservatives (in common, actually, with a lot of lefties) are all too willing to legislate for social control and will probably, should the political stars align, want to run strongly coercive public health policies. I see the possibility, for example, of attempts to make sure pregant women are banned from being served cigarettes and alcohol, justified as these things generally are by “look how much they cost the health system!”.

    We are now going to find out if I’m right or wrong about this, because we are now going to get an Abbott government.

  63. Lefty E

    ‘…because we are now going to get an Abbott government.’

    Thats how I feel too. This decision has a ‘last straw’ feel about it. Their main chance was just sticking to guns, reforming, and waiting for Abbott to reveal what a policy -braindead, future national embarassment he is.

    But sadly, the whole federal party is utterly diseased with NSW-itis.

    Whoever let Craig Thomson crow publicly about the demise of a POPULAR reform is either working for the Tories, or too stupid to live in this world.

  64. Katz

    PN:

    That is, it would be argued that the majorities in favour of pokies reform would not feel particularly strongly about the issue relative to others that might shift their vote, whereas the minorities opposed would obsess about the issue (and no other issue) from now until their next chance to vote out the ALP

    This political calculation is probably correct. Pokie reform is a third tier issue for many but a first tier issue for some. Unlike gun control, the highly motivated minority tend to live in marginal seats.

    But on the other hand, I wouldn’t rule out the influence of the pub and casino interests on the Gillard government.

    And it should not be forgotten that mandatory precommitment appears to be a very cumbersome and ineffectual means of protecting gaming addicts from themselves. The current plethora of online gaming will, with the rapid spread of smartphones, become a tsunami that will dwarf the pokie problem.

    Before very long the current panic over pokies will seem to be quite quaint.

  65. paul walter

    I think its another strong posting from Kim also.The only thing I’d add further, after Mr Denmore at Failed Estate, is that the media coverage should be considered as to the normal role of spoiler for the opposition rather than as honest broker. I suspect this is Fran’s line also.
    Yes they are all liars but what about the power and wealth of the lobby group string-pullars, at a time when there is virtually a hung parliament?
    Am sure Labor has been overall a bit kinder to the public than a Cameron style Tory government would have been, so maybe they can be forgiven for these sorts of negotiations if its been done in the aid of a fairer agenda for the wider public.
    Personally, I cant see Gillard as any less ethical than Howard, Abbott, Costello and co, so, turning the “hang Gillard”proposition on its head why go to the trouble of changing government?

  66. Socrates

    Also agree DD

    LE unfortunately I think the commission itself lumps all the “smaller” gambling venues together, depending on how they are licensed. I don’t know if that split is available, and I have looked for it.

    I think one other motivator for those western Sydney MPs should not be ignored – money, not votes. No doubt clubs and the gaming industry are substantial political donors. Plus some disgraced former NSW State MPs actually owned shares in gambling venues. Remember that cigarette reform only occurred after Labor finally cut itself off from receiving tobacco money.

  67. Fine

    “And it should not be forgotten that mandatory precommitment appears to be a very cumbersome and ineffectual means of protecting gaming addicts from themselves. The current plethora of online gaming will, with the rapid spread of smartphones, become a tsunami that will dwarf the pokie problem.”

    This is a very important point. For all the grief it’s causing, is it good policy? On-line gambling is huge and so easy to do. It will only get bigger. People can lose a few hundred waiting for their train in the morning.

    “Social conservatives (in common, actually, with a lot of lefties) are all too willing to legislate for social control and will probably, should the political stars align, want to run strongly coercive public health policies.”

    This is another issue for me. I don’t like pokies. My idea of hell is spending time playing them. But, many, many thousands of people love them. I’m very suspicious of social control. I imagine that very few people here play the pokies, so these reforms don’t effect us. Would we feel differently of the reforms were about activities that did effect us?

    But, yeah, I’m sure there’s MPs lobbying against this because they get cash from the big clubs.

  68. derrida derider

    Pokie reform is a third tier issue for many but a first tier issue for some

    – Katz

    Actually I think that may be wrong. The minority who would change their vote to oppose pokie reform may be smaller than the minority who would change their vote to support it – most problem gamblers have or had a family. Wilkie and Xenophon are both in parliament while I don’t see any MPs anywhere elected as single-issue supporters of Clubs Australia’s platform – very different from the gun lobby.

    But regardless, integrity is a first tier issue for every voter. And that’s where Gillard has blown it.

  69. Socrates

    If you look up the chart I referred to in Chapter 2 of the PC report, you will see that the revenue estimate for on-line gamling is less than 10% of the total. Pokie machines in a club venue are far more effective at hooking gamblers in. The whole setting is designed to do it. Well worth reading Tim Costello’s book on this point.

    Mandatory pre-commitment was only one of the PC’s recommendations, but while untested, it was considered likely to be the most effective.

  70. faustusnotes

    DD and socrates, I think you’re wrong. Abbot is in the pocket of the clubs and the AHA, and there’s no way he will restrain them. Their policy platform states clearly that they will not consider any socially repressive laws. They have a clear commitment there to consult with industry.

    I’m not doing Abbott any disservice: he and his party have clearly shown that they will sell their public health policy to the tobacco companies. They openly collaborated with the mining companies on the anti-resource tax campaign, and they’re also very close to the AHA and liquor industry. They may be social conservatives, but they’re absolutely of the kind who think that government exists to cooperate with big polluters and to assist the main purveyors of poison (alcohol and tobacco). If you think their social conservatism will trump that, you’re being naive.

  71. Nick

    Lefty E and Socrates, some rough revenue breakdowns here which might help:

    http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/gamblingreform_ctte/precommitment_scheme/report/c09.htm

  72. Socrates

    faustusnotes

    Perhaps I missed something but I don’t recall ever suggesting Abbott was the solution to this problem. I am sure he is in the pockets of clubs Australia too. The sad bit for me (and others) is that so is most of the NSW ALP.

    I would simply agree with DD and others that issues like this will get Abbott elected PM, because they are trashing Gillard and Labor’s credibility. Nothing in that implies I think Tony Abbott will make a good PM. He is a nasty bully, as his behaviour over RU486 as health minister demonstrated.

  73. Socrates

    Nick

    Thanks! So it looks like clubs generate more gambling revenue than pubs – about a 60/40 split. This is making a few assumptions about income growth between the reported years of 2005 and 2009.

  74. tssk

    Abbott isn’t the solution to this problem. But for many now he’ll be seen as ‘authentic’.

    He’s against pokie reform so him failing to reform them when he get’s in shortly won’t be seen as flip flopping.

    All the Libs need to do now is run an anti ALP campaign against any and all legislation, the ALP backroom boys will mistake it as popular opinion and fall into line.

    Heck, the easiest way to destroy the ALP now would be to control them as a puppet via TV.

  75. Occam's Blunt Razor

    The next couple of Newspols are going to be very interesting.

  76. David Irving (no relation)

    All the Libs need to do now is run an anti ALP campaign against any and all legislation, the ALP backroom boys will mistake it as popular opinion and fall into line.

    It’s already happening, tssk. Christopher bloody Pyne was all over the radio this morning, screeching for a new election.

  77. Katz

    DD:

    Wilkie and Xenophon are both in parliament while I don’t see any MPs anywhere elected as single-issue supporters of Clubs Australia’s platform – very different from the gun lobby.

    Denison is an unusual electorate.

    Xenophon won big in 2007 but was unable to persuade South Australians to support a like-minded candidate in 2010, suggesting that Xenophon won on personality and profile rather than on the strength of support for pokie reform.

  78. John D

    Some forms of gambling are less prone to problem gambling than others. For example, I have never seen any reports of lotteries causing serious problems. So perhaps we should think about where problem gambling efforts should concentrate.
    Before we run a long trial on pre-commitment it might make more sense to look at alternative action for which experimental data is available.
    For example, WA seems to survive OK without pokies in either pubs or clubs. So why don’t we stop stuffing around and adopt the WA policy Australia wide before the next election if the parliamentary number can be found? Even Wilkie should be happy.

  79. tssk

    David….why would they need a new election?

    The way I see it without Wilkie, Slipper and Thompson the ALP is now minus one seat compared to the Coalition.

    They can merely ask the GG to hand the parliament over know in a controlled fashion.

  80. robbo

    Great post Kim, but so bloody depressing. Gillard has signed her own death warrant with this backdown, ensured a victory for the mad monk and as so many have observed bastardised democracy in this country in the process.But at least she is consistent,she NEVER fails to disappoint.

  81. Nick

    Socrates, I’m not sure…have a look at:

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8687.0

    Total income for the year 2004-2005 for clubs ($7,374.7m) is remarkably similar to the $7.3 billion they used in the doc I linked to above for the same year.

    But:

    “The survey scope included significant employing and non-employing organisations in Australia that generated income predominantly from the provision of hospitality services (drinking facilities, gambling, meals and other hospitality services) to members. As such, clubs whose main activity was the provision of sporting services were not included within the scope of this industry.

    The docs you linked to above use the same ABS datasets, but also fail to note this.

  82. Socrates

    Katz
    [Xenophon won big in 2007 but was unable to persuade South Australians to support a like-minded candidate in 2010, suggesting that Xenophon won on personality and profile rather than on the strength of support for pokie reform.]
    I would agree with that. I live in Adelaide and I would say that Xenephon has made a career occupying the space the Dems once did. He comments on lots of issues besides pokies, but always positions himself as independent and centrist. He also pulls lots of publicity stunts. So no, pokies alone would not have gotten him over the line. I don’t think their hold in SA is as big as in NSW or Vic.

  83. Chris

    Fine said:

    This is another issue for me. I don’t like pokies. My idea of hell is spending time playing them. But, many, many thousands of people love them. I’m very suspicious of social control. I imagine that very few people here play the pokies, so these reforms don’t effect us. Would we feel differently of the reforms were about activities that did effect us?

    The reforms actually affected very few pokies players. Because $1 limit machines were to be permitted without having to register and something like 90% of pokie players always bet $1 or less.

    dd said:

    But regardless, integrity is a first tier issue for every voter. And that’s where Gillard has blown it.

    Everyone had a good laugh at Abbott when he admitted that you couldn’t trust everything he said off-the-cuff. Well Gillard has just demonstrated that you can’t trust her even if she puts it in writing. Perhaps the ALP are competing in the wrong areas?

  84. Mr Denmore

    The ALP under both Rudd and Gillard have had absolutely no native feel for political communication, while Abbott has a journalist’s skill in getting to the point and saying it simply.

    I agree with what someone said earlier that there are too many 20-something “advisers” being overly clever – too much second guessing and trying to think a step ahead of the media and opposition.

    They are like this because Gillard still suffers from a legitimacy deficit; she had a strong moral case for radical reform on the pokies, but she couldn’t speak over the heads of the right-faction spivs to the electorate
    because she is a prisoner of the people who put her there.

    It’s such a shame, because Rudd did have that moral authority and legitimacy, but then he squandered it by being an insufferable prat and impossible to work with. Gillard seems a much more effective negotiator, but has none of the prime ministerial gravitas.

    The bottom line is that the electorate is looking for inspiration and someone to represent something more stirring than “setting the alarm clock for 4am”. That they might choose Abbott speaks volumes for the bankruptcy of our democracy.

  85. tssk

    BTW Mr Denmore…I thought what you posted here summed up the landscape well.
    http://thefailedestate.blogspot.com/2012/01/plays-thing.html

    So sad in the end. On the upside once Abbott is done I might actually be nostalgic for the Howard years!

  86. Jacques de Molay

    NSW has over 10% of the worlds poker machines.

  87. Socrates

    Nick

    Fair enough the figures may be wrong. I was only going on what I read in the PC report and the APH committee document you linked to.

    I’d still say the overall points remain true – non-profit clubs are large players in the poker machine industry, they return very little of the money to the community, and the evidence shows that vounteering and sporting participattion overall go down as the pokie influence rises. No doubt there are exceptions, but the claim that pokies prop up the community overall seems false.

  88. Nick

    I don’t disagree with you, Socrates. Obsession with (profiting from, winning at) sport in Australia means excusing any number of blatantly destructive evils: widespread gambling addiction, rape, alcoholism, junk food promotion, politicians who can’t be trusted to carry out the wishes of their electorates etc. You name it.

    Just wanting to know where those $2-3 billion discrepancies crept in, and bemused this is what passes for political process…a mess of facts and figures that don’t even pretend to add up.

  89. faustusnotes

    btw Kim, did you misspell Wilkie’s name all through this post? I know I do it to Mr. Rabbit all the time, but does Wilkie really deserve such treatment?

  90. Joe

    So, what’s the message that the government is sending the national community when it doesn’t act on problem gambling?

    It’s basically, we couldn’t give a sh!t. And I don’t mean this in the nanny state way, where you need someone holding your hand every step of your life, but gambling needs to be strongly regulated because for a significant portion of the community it’s dangerous and expensive. It causes personal and financial stress resulting in failed relationships, businesses, etc.

    But maybe in this new services based economy, that’s supplying jobs? Psychiatrists and social welfare workers also need a job, right?

  91. billie

    Australia has normalised gambling with the tennis offering online betting on the outcomes for the current game. Poker machines were introduced to Victoria 20 years ago, TAB offcourse betting about 40 years ago and Tatts tickets have been around much longer.

    Raffles and poker machines are designed to bring in much more money than they pay out. See Greg Jericho’s article “Don’t bet on the joys of pokies” about the returns on gambling @ http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/56496.html

    Jericho’s contention is that poker machines are designed to extract the punters’ money fast. The poker machine manfuacturers employ many psychologists to design poker machines that keep you playing, trivialising your losses and big noting your trivial wins.

    I don’t think online betting will extract money as fast as poker machines. If I run up a big bill to an overseas betting shop how can they enforce their debt collection without incurring tax office attention and Australian tax liabilities.

    I am disgusted by Labor’s blatant governing for the people who matter.

  92. Down and Out of Sài Gòn
  93. Keithy

    $1 max bets, [..........NEXT!!]

  94. Debbieanne

    For me this all comes down to principles. I know Mr Abbott(LNP) has none, I had hoped that the ALP did, but it would appear not to be the case, with this issue just the latest.

  95. alfred venison

    come back kevin stop
    all is forgiven stop
    av

  96. dexitroboper

    The ALP is still tackling problem gambling – just not in the way Wilkie wanted. That’s not a failure or backflip according to cyenne, a former pokie addict and and advocate for reform.

  97. Joe

    Dexitroboper,

    From what I understand from the article, it sounds like they’re paying for something (pre-commitment tech.) which they’re not going to use?! Oh, they might use it in the future… Well, let’s hope that everything’ll be ok, then.

    More generally…

    The gubberment is supposed to be looking out for us, not powdering it’s collective nose. I don’t want to live in a screw-you-pal type country like the US has become. Freedom isn’t the freedom to watch your neighbour fall into a hole and just walk away. We need a society and a government which will conscientiously try to improve the lives of all of its citizens. We need the freedom to take responsibility for each other.

    I want a party who says no to private schools and yes to public housing (private housing market’s a time bomb.) I want stronger environmental protection legislation. I want a taxation “system” which redistributes the wealth more equally. I want a resource rent tax, more public money for national assets. I want a welfare system, which is humane. I want a sustainable & profitable timber industry (Germany is self-sufficient wrt to timber!!). A national renewable energy project, which actually does physical r&d and not just financial modelling. I want a national defense plan, which is closer to the Swiss model than relying on the US. I want a republic. I want a focus on regional development a financial transaction tax. I want an economy which is internationally competitive in tech.

    What do I get from Lib and Lab?
    F’in nuthin’!

  98. Thomas Paine

    I did say one of my big problems with Gillard if she won the election was that it would drag the political narrative of Australia to the right. Well that has happened but to boot we get from time to time Howard’s style and MO.

    Just look how quickly she condemned Assange to guilt, even though there was no crime. Licking US boots, smooching the POTUS, and backstabbing Palestine. Maybe in the hope of Obama smooching.

    Question is, how much is Gillard her own person, how much is she doing the bidding of factional/corporate money interests?

    And with tabacco interests. Probably she is thinking current smokers are committed smokers and nothing will stop them, revenue will always flow if ever decreasing. I have a brother with emphysema and he still smokes.

    One can only hope Turnbull rolls Abbott somehow.

  99. Nickws

    Ambigulous @ 48: I thought it was the invasion of Iraq that Mr Wilkie spoke against?

    ANDREW Wilkie has said the justification given by both parties for keeping Australian troops in Afghanistan is a “great lie”.

    Mr Wilkie has argued that both parties lied during the election campaign about the relevance of the war to Australia’s national security and has called for a parliamentary debate on the almost decade-long conflict.

    “We certainly do need a debate about why we’re there,” he told the ABC.

    “And one of the great lies, one of the big lies of this federal election campaign – a lie told by both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party – is that we have to be there to fight terrorists for Australia’s national security.

    “And that became a lie years ago once the global extremist Islamic threat morphed into a network around the world.”…

    “Ultimately, we have to get out as quickly as we can and let Afghanistan find its own natural political level. And a lot of people will die in the process. And it’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the decision-makers who got us there in the first place.”

    If he wanted to be the new Jim Cairns he sure went about it strangely considering that incredible leverage he had in the House. It all went to pushing pokie reform?!

    derrida derider @ 68: Wilkie had no choice but to run a lot harder on the pokies than on any other issues – he was elected specifically as a single-issue No Pokies candidate, not as (say) an antiwar candidate.

    Is this even true? I thought the main reason for his election was that the Greens had finally made the leap into party-of-government status in Tasmania, and this gave him an opening in Denison to harvest the traditional local Independent urges that that party had been the most recent beneficiary of, but which they couldn’t quite use successfully against Labor after the ETS failure and Rudd’s removal (unlike in Melbourne, where Bandt rode all that anti-Labor discontent to a comfortable win).

    Mr Denmore @ 92: The ALP under both Rudd and Gillard have had absolutely no native feel for political communication, while Abbott has a journalist’s skill in getting to the point and saying it simply.

    You do pre-2010 Rudd a disservice, Mr Denmore. And you give Abbott too much credit. He’s merely a cunning propagandist who knows to just go with the flow.

    Gillard’s inability to break through kills me, though. She really should be capable of pulling media-circus rabbits out of hats regardless of all the latent sexist BS she has to put up with. That’s what Bligh does in Queensland.

  100. Martin B

    NSW has over 10% of the worlds poker machines.

    I call shenanigans.

    According to the numbers in this report in 2010 NSW had 2.3% of the worlds casino-style slot machines and 1.3% of all gaming machines.

  101. Cuppa

    Please, can we change the channel. This stuff is not only overdone, to the point that nothing insightful can any longer be wrung out of the topic, but it feeds right into the agenda of the Coalition. How about some posts critical of them.

  102. Ambigulous

    Thanks Nickws, I stand corrected.

  103. Katz

    Yes, given Wilkie’s high profile as a dissenting intelligence insider highly critical of Howard’s lickspittle warmongering, his subsequent fixation on pokies to the virtual exclusion of Australia’s futile military commitments is very surprising.

    Did Wilkie get cold feet?

  104. Jacques de Molay

    Martin B @ 108,

    I call shenanigans.

    According to the numbers in this report in 2010 NSW had 2.3% of the worlds casino-style slot machines and 1.3% of all gaming machines.

    Okay fair enough, I read that on some site. It said Australia had 20% of the world’s poker machines, half of which were in NSW.

    And oh yeah Vote 1 Joe @ 105

  105. Ambigulous

    I’ve heard that pokies use is more popular amongst the poor and working class.

    I’ll assume then that harms arising fall disproportionately in those parts of the community. It’s interesting then that the loudest voices advocating pokies reform come from Church and welfare groups…

    … rather than ‘the left’ and trade unions, for example.

    Is pokies reform (partly) a “class issue”?

  106. tigtog

    @billie:

    I don’t think online betting will extract money as fast as poker machines.

    Probably not.

    If I run up a big bill to an overseas betting shop how can they enforce their debt collection without incurring tax office attention and Australian tax liabilities.

    I’ve always understood that part of the ‘genius’ of the casino/betting-shop business model is that the punter always pays up-front before the bet’s outcome is known? That’s why casinos make you buy chips to gamble with, and why poker machine establishments give you a cup of tokens in exchange for your cash. Traditionally, when someone has “gambling debts” it’s nearly always to a local loan shark from whom they’ve borrowed money with which to gamble, not actually to the bookie/casino. Today the online punter pays up with a credit card, and then it’s the local credit card company that chases up the debt.

    Of course, since the major credit cards have no problem refusing to process donation payments to Wikileaks, perhaps we should demand that they shouldn’t be processing payments to online betting sites either?

  107. Mr Denmore

    The point I was trying to make (probably not very well) in my post at The Failed Estate is the press gallery’s perennial tendency to look at politics through the wrong end of the telescope.

    They are cooped up in the press gallery, all reading each other’s copy and listening to the same grabs on the same radio stations and speaking to the same small group of people – who are themselves captives of parliament house.

    So they’re fully embedded. And that kills any capacity for them to imagine arguments or perspectives not internally generated by the ecosystem of which they are a part.

    My view is that the news story that is screaming to be told here is how a middle-sized industry (the clubs and pubs) has managed to wield such extraordinary political power. (Geoff Kitney came closest in the Fin last week, but this is a front page story).

    Who are the key players? How do they exert influence? Through whom?
    Why are politicians so frightened when polls show a clear majority of the public want a restraint on the pestilence of the pokies?
    Where are the economic rationalists in this debate – particularly considering the Productivity Commission is normally their mouthpiece?
    We now have a couple of precedents of industries (clubs and hotels on pokies; miners on the RSPT) running expensive, but ultimately extremely profitable advertising campaigns that derail reforms aimed at the greatest good of the greatest number. Why not just pull the journos out of the press gallery and stick them in the offices of the lobby groups – because that’s clearly who’s really running this country?

  108. billie

    Thanks TigTog

    Mr Denmore, because of the media preoccupation with navel introspection, young people aren’t getting their news from newspapers or the Channel 2 or Channel 9 News anymore. A friend reckons they watch Tony Abbott’s stunts and that makes him popular with the 17 year old males. Who watches Channel 10 News at 6pm? Is The Drum on ABC offering any competition or are the former ABC viewers turning off.

    Will The Greens capture disaffected voters disappointed with MRRT, Pokies, banning of wind farms in Vic NSW which are all policies for the common good

  109. Fine

    “Is pokies reform (partly) a “class issue”?”

    Yes, Ambi – I believe so. There’s a definite whiff of “I disapprove of your pleasure. Therefore, I will attempt to limit it in the way I see fit. And I won’t bother talking to you about it”.

    We’re not hearing any voices hear from people who play pokies, which is a pity.

    OTOH, think of David Walsh the philanthropist who’s set up MONA, with money won from on-line gambling. He and is colleagues certainly worked out how to make it pay.

  110. Chris

    tigtog @ 114 said:

    Of course, since the major credit cards have no problem refusing to process donation payments to Wikileaks, perhaps we should demand that they shouldn’t be processing payments to online betting sites either?

    Xenophon has proposed something pretty similar. To allow visa card users to have any transaction related to overseas gambling sites to have their transactions reversed if they don’t comply with Australian regulations. Its an interesting idea, but may have some bad side effects – eg may result in many overseas retailers or intermediaries like PayPal refusing to accept Australian credit cards.

    Fine @ 117 said:

    We’re not hearing any voices hear from people who play pokies, which is a pity.

    There certainly have been quite a few news reports interviewing ex-pokie addicts and their families (on the ABC radio/TV anyway). Xenophon pulls one out for publicity every now and then too. Most I’ve heard seem broadly supportive of both the $1 bets and pre-committment.

  111. Ootz

    Why not just pull the journos out of the press gallery and stick them in the offices of the lobby groups – because that’s clearly who’s really running this country?

    Mr Denmore, you are getting awfully close to the sad truth. However, I suspect it is the other way around. The hacks are just pawns, like a Cricket hero with a fast food logo emblazoned on his t shirt. In reality the lobby groups have moved into the offices of the msm. ‘Campaigns’ are a tremendous source of revenue. ‘News’ is now all infotainment to fuel consumption and chasing the mighty $ – capitalism at its grossest!

  112. Nick

    Geez, Fine.

    Next time I think of my best friend’s mum, who withdrew over $20,000 from the cricket club account, drove up to the casino, lost it all and attempted suicide that same night…

    Or my mentally disabled next door neighbour and the local Rowing/Entertainment Club who have no qualms about fleecing her of her dole cheque every fortnight, and her 16 year old son who my ex-wife and I pretty much had to adopt for a year to stop going seriously off the rails…

    I’ll remember David Walsh and his mates and their golf course, and how there really is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow like that Pokies commercial said there was.

  113. Fine

    Has David Walsh got a golf course? I thought he had a museum. Strange that. And to be clear – he won the money from beating the bookies, which is nice to see.

    Yes, gambling can be awful. But the reports as to whether mandatory pre-commitment would solve the problem are mixed. We can, and sometimes do, have the same sorts of conversation about alcohol and other other drugs which cause at least as much misery as gambling. But, those conversation tend to be more nuanced here (examining reasons for abuse, the best way to minimise harm, to prohibit or minimise, or have an open slather policy etc.) With pokies, it tends to be – Wilkie has a policy? Oh good, that’s the one we should be utiltising.

  114. tssk
  115. tssk

    Crap….I forgot to put an end to that link. No worry. I’m sure people from all sides of politics are pushing the same line.

  116. Mr Denmore

    Fine, I very much doubt the pokies is a “class issue”. I work in an office building in downtown Sydney full of investment bankers and fund managers and other masters of the universe.

    The “VIP room” in the pub downstairs is chock full at lunchtime with rather desperate looking men in Hugo Boss suits, $150 shirts and cufflinks, pumping $50 notes through King of the Nile five at a time. I guess the difference might be that they can afford it, but I doubt it.

    As to “pleasure”, I haven’t seen any pleasure in the eyes of any of these people – either the blue-blood lunchtime punters or the minimum wage immigrants bussed into Star City to play the pokies.

    No, these machines don’t discriminate. Just like booze, addiction to gambling fells all types and creates misery across the social demographic spectrum.

    Sooner or later, you’d think we might as a society decide on the smart course of action and rip the damn things out. But I suspect the tax addicted state government treasuries, the club bosses, the ad agencies and the media whores might convince us all that this would be a blow to “freedom”.

    For my money, Tim Friedman had the right idea all along. Blow the bloody things up.

  117. Nick

    Golf course was a long time ago. Museum was like yesterday.

    The ALP has had over a year to refine and improve that policy *with* Wilkie…isn’t that what those joint select committees are for? And up until a few days ago they’ve shown nothing but support for it.

    Now they want to turn around and say it wasn’t even good policy we were supporting anyway? It was actually very questionable, and it was just Wilkie’s weirdo obsession not ours (hey, did anyone notice he’s a bit of a weirdo?), and we really did just go along with it for the ride because it was politically convenient? Our policy would be so much better, except oh, it’s just a diluted version of his anyway…

    Doesn’t really wash for me…and whiffs of straw wowserism on an issue with >65% public support don’t really equal nuance.

  118. Jacques de Molay

    My brother and his partner both work in the industry in separate hotels (ALH, hello Woolies!) and they say without question pokie addiction is mainly of people from a lower income, usually pensioners and obviously they don’t have the money to blow unlike the rich.

    Rich people tend to be rich for a reason which is why for example the vast majority of pokie machines in SA are found in the poorer north-western suburbs and bugger all in the affluent eastern suburbs.

    State governments have a lot to answer for.

  119. tssk

    The most depressing thing I saw recently was a woman in the local pub feeding 50 after 50 through. No enjoyment in her eyes. Just stabbing at the button. This sort of thing freaks me out.

    This is not like watching TV or playing video games. This is something different. And there’s a reason they stick with primary colours and simplistic jingles when you could do so much more with the tech. It’s all about getting people into a feedback loop. It’s all about flow. It’s all about losing time.

    Here’s a thing. Almost every device I use now has a clock in it. Pokies don’t display a clock in the corner. They don’t chime once an hour. They don’t give you stats on how much you’ve spent.

    For me it’s an issue. For the majority of political parties? Obviously not.

  120. Jacques de Molay

    It may be that the rich prefer to go to high rollers’ rooms in the casino

    That or buy shares ;)

  121. Mr Denmore

    Kim, the statistics around social-economic influences and gambling appear to be a little muddy. Intuitively, it might seem the problems with the pokies are greater in the lower decile suburbs – but is that because there is a greater concentration of machines there?

    One report I read said the prevalence of problem gambling is lower in WA than in Victoria – which makes sense as WA pubs don’t have pokies.

    It might just be an access issue. The wealthy may be just as likely to have a gambling problem – though this may be more likely to be met through online gambling and punting derivatives.

    What makes the pokies different is their ubiquity in NSW and Victoria.

    That’s why I would be wary of “class-based” analysis or writing the problem off as a battler syndrome. The real issue is access and the ease of losing a lot of money very, very quickly.

    What I find most remarkable is we don’t allow pubs and clubs to serve alcohol to clearly inebriated people. So what on earth is the problem with limiting the capacity of the pokies to do harm?

  122. Sam

    the rich prefer to go to high rollers’ rooms in the casino

    High rollers’ rooms at casinos are for billionaires (mostly from Asia) who gamble millions of dollars at a time.

  123. Chris

    Mr Denmore @ 131 – I’d agree with you that a big factor is accessibility. Especially when the pokie venues cross subsidise their restaurant areas so they can attract people in for cheap meals paid for by addicts. They become a big social venue for the community, which also helps explain why they get so much political leverage.

    I went to one place for dinner other night a was surprised to find an excellent huge indoor playground for children there as well (McDonalds style but a lot bigger). It looked like it was designed so parents could drop their kids off at the playground for some free childcare and then go play the pokies.

    IIRC it was reported recently one pokie venue giving away bingo cards in kids meals – they were claiming it teaches children numeracy!!

  124. David Irving (no relation)

    Jesus Christ, Chris – do they give the kiddies smokes as well?

    Bastards!

  125. billie

    Poker machines are designed to fleece the punter. ALH concentrates its poker machines in lower socio economic demographics. Poker machine rooms are often open 24 hours a day.

    I was surprised that the casino in Monte Carlo opens from 2pm to 2 am, it’s not a 24 hour a day operation

  126. Shingle

    A relation of mine became a poke addict some years ago. Had to be bailed out financially by her mum, a pensioner who will never recoup her lost savings. Point being that often somebody other than the person ‘choosing’ to play bears the losses. Therefore imperative the community faces this problem. Btw, incentives & enticements my rel was offered constantly by venues she frequented beggared belief (free bus, free meals, loyalty schemes, staff greeting her by name etc). She fitted common profile of prob gambler having a cluster of personal & health probs which seemed to make her vulnerable to this insane form of entertainment. If politics can’t deal with it, I’d like to see a creative & cultural war against the pokies. My spell check just changed it to ‘porkies’ … How apt.

  127. Keithy

    My friends Mum asks her addicted son to take her to the casino: they’re all addicts!

  128. Wantok

    There has been a lot of crticism of julia Gillard, not the least from Andrew Wilkie, for introducing a pre-commitment trial in 2013. I thought I would see what the Productivity Commission had to say on this subject in their much referenced report. Well guess what, they recommend a trial to commence in 2013 and full implementation in 2016.

    http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/95705/22-chapter19.pdf

  129. Chris

    Wanton @ 141 – I think many people believe (including me) that the ALP will never on their own initiative legislate for the full implementation. The only way its going to happen know is if the Greens end up with balance of power in both houses. If Gillard have legislated for both the trial in 2013 and the full implementation in 2016 (can always do some ammendments after the trial if necessary or possibly just through regulation) then I’d be much less critical. The Productivity Commission’s idea of the trial was to fine tune the system not whether or not to do it.

  130. Chris

    Oops Wantok I mean. Sorry!!

  131. jane

    Just as a matter of interest, could someone list all these thousands of promises that Gillard has apparently broken?

    Frankly, Wilkie could have introduced a Private Members bill with government support if he was so passionate about pokies reform, or he could propose amendments to the current bill. And isn’t that what he was promised?

    Either way, it’s his baby, so how come it’s the government’s responsibility to do all the leg work?

    No doubt, if Wilkie’s bill had been defeated, some clown would have used it as a stick to beat Gillard with-another example of her lack of integrity, cowardice, lack of ability to communicate, string of broken promises (which no accuser cares to list), responsibility for the death of Arch duke Ferdinand blah, blah blah.

    Gillard doesn’t have the luxury of a healthy majority in the Parliament, so if she wants a billed passed in the lower house it has to be carefully negotiated.

    Pokies reform as proposed by Andrew Wilkie was never going to be passed and you can be certain Wilkie knew that-Crook, Windsor and Oakeshott had said they wouldn’t give it the nod.

    And his talk of a significant number on the Opposition being prepared to cross the floor is pie in the sky, imo.

    So a compromise had to be reached. So what? Is doing sfa better? Why is it such a betrayal that the government has altered their approach, if to do so means that reform will happen.

    Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s a start and a bloody sight more and better than anything the Liars Party would do.

    Beating your head against a brick wall only results in a headache and brain damage; walking around it or locating the door makes much more sense.

    As for Liealot the great communicator, I wonder if his three word slogans would look so good if the entire msm was not working at full throttle to make them appear so.

  132. Jacques de Molay

    CHILDREN are being offered free food as an enticement for their parents to play pokies, in what is being labelled as a gambling loophole.

    The gambling watchdog is investigating as inducements for gamblers are banned in South Australia.

    In one instance, Cafe 540 – on Port Rd, Allenby Gardens is offering the food to children of gamblers playing nearby poker machines at Tavern 540.

    A spokesman for Cafe 540 said the business was a separate entity from Tavern 540 but acknowledged it was “under the same roof”.

    He said the free food was served in an area totally separated from the gaming machines of Tavern 540 and was not an enticement to gamble. The Advertiser investigated the issue after a reader complained that the school holiday free food deal was offered “all day every day”.

    South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said some parents may think they were saving money but if they also gambled could end up much worse off.

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/port-road-cafe-offers-free-food-for-children-as-parents-play-pokies/story-e6frea6u-1226254697066

  133. zoot

    Sam @134: not in WA.
    I once worked for an insurance company and found it a bit creepy that the General Manager was a member of the local casino’s high roller room. He was definitely not a billionaire.

  134. tssk

    If one of my employees was suddenly a ‘high roller’ I’d be checking all reciepts and the books. Twice.

  135. Ambigulous

    “The Age” reports Fair Work Australia has completed a draft report, which includes adverse findings concerning Mr Williamson, Craig Thomson MP, and Kathy Jackson.

  136. Sam

    Kim and others, there are different grades of gamblers. The ones you describe get special treatment but the people who are known as High Rollers are the billionaire types.

  137. Lefty E

    Here we go: the ALPs brilliant strategy on Wilkie comes home to roost.
    He’s supporting a no-confidence motion over the Australia Day events.

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/wilkie-set-to-support-debate-over-noconfidence-vote-20120130-1qp43.html

    Now, the whole story is a pile of rubbish, and primarily Abbott’sfault anyway – but the point remains: why, oh why didnt they let Wilkie’s gambling reforms just fail in parliament.

    Idiots. Inexperienced, 20-something idiots.

  138. Martin B

    He’s supporting debate to allow a no-confidence motion to be made. He says that he almost certainly won’t support the no-confidence motion itself.

    That’s not to disagree with your substantive point of course.