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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.


Carbon Tax Legislation Becomes Law

Royal Assent has been given to the Gillard government’s Clean Energy Future legislation.

The legislation, a package of 21 bills, introduces a carbon tax and associated measures.

Text of media release from Treasurer Wayne Swan, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, and Families Minister Jenny Macklin:

Clean Energy Reforms Receive Royal Assent

The Gillard Government welcome the Royal Assent of a further 21 bills of the Clean Energy Future Legislative Package and the proclamation of their commencement dates.

The completion of this process means that the Government has the central legislative pieces in place to deliver a clean energy future for Australia.

The Clean Energy Act 2011, Clean Energy (Household Assistance Amendments) Act 2011, Steel Transformation Plan Act 2011 and Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 and 17 related bills have all now received Royal Assent. [Read more…]


Today’s Political Activity

These are today’s briefings from Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and others on Cyclone Yasi. [Read more…]


Julia Gillard and Jenny Macklin On Parental Leave, Floods And Abbott

This is the audio of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s media conference.

Gillard was joined by the Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin. They discuss the introduction of paid parental leave, the Queensland floods and Tony Abbott. [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd Elected Leader Of The ALP; Gillard New Deputy

Kevin Rudd became leader of the ALP on December 4, 2006.

Rudd defeated Kim Beazley by 49 votes to 39 in a Caucus ballot.

Julia Gillard was elected deputy leader unopposed, replacing Jenny Macklin.

The new Opposition Leader was the first Queenslander to lead the ALP since Bill Hayden (1977-83).

  • Watch the Rudd-Gillard press conference (21m)
  • Listen to Rudd-Gillard (21m)

Transcript of Kevin Rudd’s opening remarks at his first press conference as ALP leader.

So now the new and the real work begins.

Today the Australian Labor party elected a new leadership team with a new leadership style for Australia’s future. A new style of leadership.

Kim Beazley’s just spoken to you. Kim is a good man. I’ve known him for a long, long time. He spoke very well today. He is a man who has given to this party and this movement and this country a hang of a lot over the last quarter of a century or more. [Read more…]


As Kim Beazley Seeks To Reclaim ALP Leadership, Kevin Rudd Keeps His Options Open

Following Mark Latham’s resignation as leader of the ALP earlier in the day, former leader Kim Beazley announced his intention to contest the caucus ballot for the position.

Beazley said there was a desire for unity, stability and experience in the ALP. Whilst he didn’t think these circumstances would arise, he said he was “absolutely fired with ambition for the nation”. He said he had learned anew “the value of my colleagues” and he would be a different leader from before. Beazley served as ALP between 1996 and 2001, taking the ALP to defeats in the 1998 and 2001 federal elections.

Beazley said he was deeply saddened by Latham’s resignation statement. He described Latham as a man of “considerable ability and great talent”.

Speaking from overseas, Foreign Affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said: “In the period ahead I’ll be consulting with my colleagues on the future.” He also paid tribute to Latham, saying it had been a difficult day for him. [Read more…]


Latham Quits As Labor Leader And Resigns From Parliament

Jan 18 – 2.45pmLATHAM PRESS CONFERENCE ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE. LIVE BROADCAST ON SKY NEWS. LATHAM RESIGNATION EXPECTED. BEAZLEY STATEMENT DUE LATER TODAY.

Jan 18 – 2.47pm
LATHAM RESIGNS….Developing…

Latham Experiment Over

Jan 18, 2.50pm – The Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, has just announced his resignation at a press conference in Ingleburn, NSW. He cited poor health as the reason for his resignation, but did not take questions at the hastily convenced conference. [Read more…]


Latham Statement Raises More Questions; Allows Time For Planning Transition To New Leader

The statement released this afternoon by Mark Latham resolves nothing and commits the Opposition Leader to nothing more than remaining leader for another thirteen days.

Mark Latham, Leader of the OppositionThe statement [see below] offers no commitment by Latham to remaining leader. It states ominously that “the news about my health has not been good.”

Latham expresses sympathy for the tsunami and bushfire victims. Over the past fortnight he has been criticised for his silence on the tsunami disaster.

He defends his stay at a holiday resort in Terrigal, NSW, and argues that the acting leaders of the ALP have expressed the appropriate sentiments over the past three weeks. [Read more…]


Jenny Macklin On Mark Latham’s Health: He Needs A Little More Time To Recover

With speculation swirling about the future of Federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham, the ALP’s Deputy Leader, Jenny Macklin has commented on his health.

Macklin said Latham would return to work towards the end of the month. She said he “needs a little more time to recover” from pancreatitis.

  • Listen to Macklin (63s)

Condolences For Former Senator Janine Haines – House Of Representatives

The House of Representatives has paid tribute to former Senator Janine Haines, who died on November 20, 2004. She was 59.

Haines was first appointed to a South Australian casual vacancy in the Senate in 1977. At that time, she replaced the former Liberal Movement Senator Steele Hall, who had resigned and ultimately rejoined the Liberal Party and was elected to the House.

Haines’ term expired in 1978, but she was elected as an Australian Democrats senator at the 1980 election, taking her seat in 1981. Following Don Chipp’s retirement in 1986, she became leader of the party.

Haines resigned her Senate seat to contest the House seat of Kingston at the 1990 election but she was defeated by the sitting Labor MP, Gordon Bilney. [Read more…]