More Debate over Pokies
Following on from last year’s Productivity Commission report on pokies and gambling, the debate on poker machines has been revived, as the Prime Minister bets everything on independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The commission’s report was a balanced one, noting that poker machines provide a valuable service and support local clubs and pubs, but that gambling addiction is a huge problem for many Australians. The logical action, given the report, would be ongoing consultation and gradual reform through co-operation with welfare organizations and industry groups. However, when a mandatory precommitment scheme idea was tabled by Mr Wilkie, Gillard responded not by insisting on a careful and considered implementation process, but by giving him free reign to go forward with his idea – putting her on a collision course with the pubs, clubs, and manufacturers that now face difficult and expensive changes.
The precommitment idea is an interesting one, but it is putting jobs and revenues in jeopardy, and is proving more expensive to implement than some thought at first glance. What will happen at this late juncture remains to be seen, however many clubs and sporting groups are now lobbying to get the legislation changed, and to make it more difficult for such legistlation to be rushed through in the future.
One can only hope that any changes to the legislation will be in the right direction – few would argue that that the spirit of the legislation is incorrect, it is merely the poorly planned and rushed nature of it that is proving problematic so far.