Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gillard back to one seat majority.

Wilkie drops support for Gillard after pokies backflip
Andrew Wilkie
Andrew Wilkie says Julia Gillard is in breach of a written agreement on gambling reforms.
Source: The Australian

ANTI-POKIES MP Andrew Wilkie has ripped up his agreement to support the Gillard minority government after the Prime Minister broke her promise on gambling reforms.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced a watered down plan to tackle problem gambling, which would include a trial in the ACT of mandatory pre-commitment technology.

This backs away from a deal struck with Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie to legislate the reforms by May and roll out the technology by 2014. Under Ms Gillard’s compromise deal, the roll out of pre-commitment technology would be delayed until 2016.

Mr Wilkie said he can no longer guarantee supply and confidence for the government because the Prime Minister reneged on their deal. “I will only support motions of no confidence in the event of serious misconduct and not support politically opportunistic motions. I will consider budget measures on their merits,” Mr Wilkie said today in Hobart.
Mr Wilkie said the government had failed to seize the opportunity for meaningful pokie reforms. “The government's explanation that it doesn't have the numbers is simply wrong,” he said.“The legislation should be debated in the parliament and tested on the floor of the House.”

He said he won't give up on pushing for pre-commitment technology and $1 bet limits.
Mr Wilkie told reporters the back down went right to the issue of trust. “We should be able to trust our politicians to keep their word,” he said. “Frankly a deal is a deal.”

Mr Wilkie said he hoped to retain a good working relationship with the Gillard government.
He said he would support the government's new plan even though it does not go far enough. The compromise pokie reform package was shown to him last Sunday in Hobart and was exactly what Ms Gillard announced today, Mr Wilkie said.

Earlier today, Ms Gillard told reporters in Melbourne the trial was important to see if the technology worked, and would start on January 1, 2013. The federal government has formerly approached Clubs ACT to trial the controversial pokies reforms. Ms Gillard played down claims the shift was another broken promise. "The circumstances of this parliament are clear ... there is not the support in the House of Representatives for the Andrew Wilkie plan," she said. "We need people working together on the same page to get change and the package of reforms we're announcing today I believe will get that support in the parliament.
 "To not take this approach means that you don't get change and not getting change is too big a risk for those Australians and their families that struggle day to day with the pressures that problem gambling puts on their shoulders."

Families Minister Jenny Macklin said at the earlier press conference that she had made a "substantiative offer" to the clubs industry in the ACT and had also approached the ACT government about trialling the pre-commitment technology there. "That offer has been viewed as serious and substantive by the clubs industry in the ACT and by the ACT government," Ms Macklin said. "If we get the agreement of the clubs industry in the ACT, we hope to start this trial as soon as possible next year."

Other reforms revealed by the government include introducing a $250 daily withdrawal limit from ATMs in gaming venues, except casinos, by February 2013, additional counselling support for problem gamblers and a ban on promotion of live odds during sports coverage.

A Clubs Australia spokesman told AAP the organisation would not be "dumping" their ongoing campaign against the reforms. He said Clubs Australia did not consider the Gillard government's watering down of the reforms as a victory. Clubs Australia is waiting to see the details of what will be included in the legislation before it makes a decision, the spokesman said.

Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello said the full rollout of the pokies reforms hung on a "wing and a prayer"."We are trusting a future parliament where there won't be a Wilkie with the balance of power," he told ABC TV. "It's something that disturbs me."

Rev Costello said the newly formed Stop the Loss Coalition would keep lobbying for action on problem gambling.

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