Wilkie calls on Greens to step up and support pokie reform

TASMANIAN independent MP Andrew Wilkie has called on the Greens to put "policy purity" to one side and support the Federal Government's proposed poker machine reform.

Mr Wilkie, who chairs the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, made the comments as he released the committee's third report on Friday.

The committee made 13 recommendations about the best ways to combat problem gambling, focusing on "health promotion, harm reduction and treatment".

Much to Mr Wilkie's dismay poker machine reform continues to be slow in coming as the Gillard government struggles to garner enough support on the floor of the Parliament.

Fearing a backlash from voters the government dumped plans to implement mandatory pre-commitment for all poker machines earlier this year instead opting for a water-down plan, including a pre-commitment trial in the ACT and the roll out of pre-commitment technology to all machines.

Mr Wilkie said the government was delaying introducing the new legislation because it does not have the support of the Coalition or the Greens, who want $1 maximum bets.

"The government's proposed poker machine reforms are far from perfect; but they're better than nothing and worth pursuing," Mr Wilkie said.

"I support $1 maximum bets and tried to reach an agreement with the government on this after the 2010 election.

"However, the government continues to have no interest in this important Productivity Commission recommendation and we run the very real risk of seeing no poker machine reform in this Parliament.

"Frankly, for the Greens to continue to hold out for $1 maximum bets is entirely unhelpful and likely to sound the death knell of poker machine reform for many years to come."

He called on the Greens to strike a deal with the government that poker machines be both $1 maximum bet and mandatory pre-commitment capable.

"This would be a significant development and one that would give a future federal government the option of adopting either $1 maximum bets or activating mandatory pre-commitment," he said.

"Significantly, it would also give state and territory governments the option of going it alone."

 

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Establish a national independent research institute on gambling.
  • Commonwealth Government fund a national helpline, similar to the Drug and Alcohol Clinical
  • Advisory Service.
  • Governments work with industry towards jurisdiction-wide venue exclusion and legislative changes which mean prizes won by people in breach of self-exclusion orders should be forfeited to government revenue.
  • Federal Government designates gambling as a National Health Priority Area to be funded for
  • Research.


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