In Question Time today I asked the Prime Minister to support, or at least bring on for debate, my Private Members’ Bill to combat poker machine problem gambling that would implement the Productivity Commission recommendations of $1 maximum bets and mandatory pre-commitment.
A great many Australians would be deeply disappointed by Malcolm Turnbull’s response and refusal to commit to poker machine reform. This is the man who, before he was Prime Minister, put himself on the public record expressing his concern with poker machines and the need to do something about the harm they cause. But given the chance today to commit to delivering such reform he fobbed it off to the states and territories, even though they’ve shown they simply can’t be trusted to give up gambling taxes in favour of effective harm minimisation measures.
Poker machine reform must now be added to the list of very important issues where Malcolm Turnbull said one thing before he became Prime Minister, and is doing something completely opposite as PM.
There are near on 100,000 Australian poker machine problem gamblers losing between them some $5bn a year. Between five and 10 people are adversely affected by each of these unfortunate souls, bringing the total number of Australians suffering to as much as a million. Millions more are concerned with this situation and are also desperate for reform.
Shame on the Government. All we’ve got is another one beholden to the pokies industry and who don’t recognise the public interest even though it’s staring them in the face.