National Gambling Reform On Shaky Ground
9 December 2013 at 10:26 am
Peak social services organisation UnitingCare Australia has expressed its deep disappointment in the Federal Coalition Government’s plan to scrap changes to the national gambling reform.
Last week, the Coalition made its move to dismantle the national gambling reform that includes voluntary pre-commitment on poker machines, dynamic warnings and $250 daily ATM withdrawal limits in gaming venues.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews told ABC radio that if it wasn’t for the deal between Tasmanian Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard to keep her in The Lodge, the reform would never have happened.
“Primarily this [gambling regulation] is a state responsibility and we’re returning it to the state,” he said on Radio National.
However UnitingCare Australia National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds said the Coalition and Labor need to reconsider this decision.
“The Productivity Commission estimates that 40 per cent of the industry’s profits on pokies come from people with a serious gambling problem, and another 20 per cent from those with a moderate or developing problem,” Hatfield Dodds said.
“Politics was set aside last year as the Federal Government successfully navigated the historic poker machine reform legislation through Parliament.
“It can again be above politics. Setting loss limits and enabling people to break through the stigma and seek help were important breakthroughs. The National Gambling Reform Bill 2012 was a solid platform for further reform.”
Labor spokesperson for Communities, Senator Claire Moore said the legislation had been referred to a committee which will report back to the Senate on Thursday. She gave no indication on whether Labor would support the changes or not.
The Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale has spoken openly against the changes.
“Tony Abbott’s brutal agenda means axing the modest pokies reforms put in place last year to help reduce the harms experienced by many Australian families,” Senator Di Natale said.
“That one of the Abbott Government’s first bills gives the pokies industry everything it wants, at the expense of vulnerable families, tells you everything you need to know about this government.
“The Abbott Government’s agenda isn’t about helping Aussie families, it’s about doing the bidding of the big end of town.
“Tony Abbott tried to sneak these changes through because he will do anything to avoid scrutiny of his mean and cruel agenda.”
Senator Di Natale, on Radio National, said the community could not afford the Federal Government vacate the space of national reform.
“What we need to see here is Labor to take a stand against this brutal government because one this legislation is gone – that’s it,” he said on radio.
“We won’t see a Federal Government anytime in the future tackle this reform.”