Deputy Speaker, in a secret negotiation in 2003 the Tasmanian Government gifted the Federal Group a monopoly license to operate poker machines in Tasmania. Since then, poker machines have cost Tasmanian gamblers more than a billion dollars. In fact in the first month of this financial year alone, over $2 million was lost on the pokies just in the Glenorchy area.
Deputy Speaker this monopoly agreement expires in 2018 and the Tasmanian Government is obviously interested in rolling over and extending it. But this must not be allowed to happen because, if we are going to have poker machines in Tasmania, then any new license must be decided by an open tender, and must include stringent harm minimisation measures, such as $1 maximum bets and mandatory pre-commitment.
Deputy Speaker what’s really galling about all this is the way the Federal Group is prepared to blackmail the Tasmanian community to get their way. Indeed they’ve already said they might abandon $100 million worth of development in the State if the license doesn’t get extended.
Thank God David Walsh from MONA has acted courageously and refuses to build his proposed micro high-roller casino if it means any extension to the Federal Group license.
Deputy Speaker on a national level, Liberal and Labor receive enormous donations from the poker machine industry and that’s obvious from the policy decisions we end up with. For instance the Liberal-National Coalition overturned the modest reforms achieved in the previous Parliament. And they’ve announced an inquiry into online and sports betting that’s more about protecting Australian gambling interests than helping problem gamblers.
Deputy Speaker the Labor Party is just as bad, seeing as they were very happy to talk about poker machine reform when in government, but ultimately progressed only minimalist reforms and were then quite happy to help the Abbott Government overturn them after the 2013 election.
And Deputy Speaker, not only does the Labor Party receive enormous donations from the industry, they even own machines here in Canberra. In fact just yesterday the Canberra Times reported that Labor Party-owned pokies venues made a $25 million profit this past year.
Deputy Speaker, the poker machine industry preys on the most vulnerable and will stop at nothing to get what they want. Frankly they think nothing of the harm they cause, or the lives they destroy along the way.
So shame on Liberal and Labor for kowtowing to the pokies industry. Shame on state governments for refusing to take any meaningful steps to help poker machine problem gamblers. And shame on the industry for bullying, lying and destroying lives to get their way. Shame on the lot of them.