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This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


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Poker Machine Doublespeak

It was a day for doublespeak yesterday as Gillard Government functionaries came out in force to promote their leader’s “problem gambling policy”.

Andrew Wilkie and Julia GillardThey all denied Andrew Wilkie had been stabbed in the back.

“We don’t have the numbers to deliver the package he has asked for,” said Health Minister Plibersek, overlooking the inconvenient truth that Gillard signed up to the policy in exchange for Wilkie backing her into government.

Communications Minister Conroy confusingly explained it thus: “It’s a minority government – it wasn’t about promising something we couldn’t keep.”

Of course not. Black is white. [Read more…]


Andrew Wilkie Withdraws His Support For Gillard Government

Andrew Wilkie has withdrawn his support for the Gillard minority government.

Andrew WilkieThe independent member for Denison says the problem gambling proposals announced today by Julia Gillard are in breach of the agreement he signed with her after the 2010 election.

However, Wilkie said he will support the government’s problem gambling legislation in the House.

Wilkie said Gillard put the proposals to him last Sunday. He said he wanted to be “a man of my word” but that he didn’t want poker machine reform to “slip through our fingers”. [Read more…]


Gillard Backs Down On Poker Machine Reforms

The Gillard government has announced a year-long “large scale trial” of mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines in the ACT from February next year. The trial will last beyond the next election.

Gillard and Macklin announce the government's pokies backdown

The government says it will “expand pre-commitment technology to every poker machine across the country, that could then be used for mandatory pre-commitment if it is supported by a trial”.

The Cabinet decision, announced in Melbourne today, represents a cave-in by the government and a victory for the clubs industry and nervous Labor backbenchers.

The decision breaks a deal with Andrew Wilkie and could result in the independent member for Denison withdrawing his support for the government. The post-election agreement Wilkie made with Julia Gillard stipulated legislation of mandatory pre-commitment before this year’s May Budget.

This is the text of a government statement:

Tackling Problem Gambling in Australia

The Gillard Government today announced its plan to tackle problem gambling, helping the five million Australians affected by problem gambling in this country.

This plan means the Gillard Government will do more to tackle problem gambling than any Commonwealth Government in Australia’s history.

The Government will act to:

  • Undertake a large scale trial of mandatory pre-commitment;
  • Expand pre-commitment technology to every poker machine across the country, that could then be used for mandatory pre-commitment if it is supported by a trial.

Rolling the technology out to every machine now ensures that we will be ready to flick the switch to a best-practice mandatory pre-commitment system, if the trial results support it.

We believe this evidence-based pathway to help problem gamblers and their families will gain the necessary support to pass the current Parliament.

It is our intention to introduce legislation in the first Parliamentary session of this year which will require that:

  • All new poker machines manufactured from 2013 must be capable of supporting pre-commitment; and
  • By 31 December 2016 all poker machines must be part of a state linked pre-commitment system, except eligible small venues which will have longer.

We will also continue to work on pre-commitment technology through the COAG Select Council on Gaming Reform. At this forum in May last year, state and territory gaming ministers agreed to support the required infrastructure for pre-commitment technology in all jurisdictions.

The Gillard Government understands that many Australians enjoy gambling responsibly. But for others it can have devastating consequences.

Problem gambling ruins lives.

That’s why in November 2008 we asked the Productivity Commission to inquire into problem gambling in Australia.

The Productivity Commission found that problem gambling affects up to five million Australians, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.

These far reaching impacts are why the Australian Government is delivering genuine, long-lasting reforms to help problem gamblers and their families.

The Government is also taking a range of other actions to support problem gamblers and their families including:

  • Introducing a $250 daily withdrawal limit from ATMs in gaming venues (excluding casinos) by 1 February 2013;
  • Electronic warnings and cost of play displays on poker machines by 2016;
  • Additional counselling support with 50 new financial counsellors to work with problem gamblers, and expanding the reach of Gambling Help Online;
  • Strengthening self-exclusion arrangements; and
  • Improving training for staff in pokies venues.

Further, the Government recognises that gambling online and sports betting are a growing concern, and we will:

  • Ban the promotion of live odds during sports coverage;
  • Extend pre-commitment to online betting services;
  • Crack down on online sports betting companies offering credit and introduce stricter limits on betting inducements; and
  • Increase the powers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to enforce these new rules.

The actions the Gillard Government is taking will be the most significant and far reaching national reforms to tackle problem gambling ever seen in this country.


House of Representatives Debates Gay Marriage Resolution

An impressive debate began in the House of Representatives tonight on a motion by the Greens member, Adam Bandt, calling on parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.

Bandt’s motion reads:

That this House:

(1) notes there is:

(a) a growing list of countries that allow same-sex couples to marry including the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, SPain, Canada and South Africa; and

(b) widespread support for equal marriage in the Australian community; and

(2) calls on all parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.

Speaking to the motion, Bandt said, “there have been many attempts through history to limit love and all have failed”. The text of his speech is at the end of this page. [Read more…]


Giving Substance To The Words

There are thirty-two new members of the 43rd Parliament, elected on August 21st. Three of them are returning after a voluntary or enforced absence. As a group, they constitute one-fifth of the House of Representatives, a significant turnover and renewal of the lower house. Many of them will be there for years to come.

Maiden SpeechesOver the past month, I have made a point of watching the maiden, or first, speeches of these members. On the whole, it is difficult not to be impressed by these fledgling parliamentarians.

There has been much comment on the moving speech from the Western Australian Liberal, Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House, but others also delivered considered and thoughtful speeches.

Take Andrew Leigh, the member for Fraser in the ACT. His reputation as an economist and thinker preceded his election. In his speech, he spoke of the importance of education for the nation’s future, of “optimistic experimentation” and of rebuilding “a sense of trust between citizens and politicians”. Leigh’s book, “Disconnected”, has just been published. [Read more…]


Andrew Wilkie To Support Minority Gillard Labor Government

Andrew Wilkie, the new independent member for Denison, has announced that he will give his support to the ALP in the hung parliament.

Wilkie has signed an agreement with Prime Minister Gillard.

Andrew Wilkie

Wilkie announced his decision at 3.30pm today, whilst government negotiations with the other independent members continue.

In his written agreement with Gillard, Wilkie undertakes to vote with the Government to ensure supply. He maintains his right to vote independently on all other legislation, “but undertakes to involve himself in negotiations with the Government before exercising that right.

Wilkie also agrees to oppose any motion of no confidence in the Government unless he has moved or seconded the motion.

The agreement includes a commitment by the government to work on a range of accountability proposals such as the online registration of lobbyists, improvements to Question Time and the creation of a Parliamentary Budget Office. Gillard and Wilkie have agreed to meet with each other once every sitting week and fortnightly at other times.

The government has agreed to contribute $100 million upfront for the construction of the Women and Children’s Hospital in Hobart. It will contribute to the $565 million redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital.

The government has committed to implement a number of poker machine reforms, including a “best practice pre-commitment schme” for all poker machines across all States and Territories by 2014.

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