Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Andrew Wilkie risking genuine poker machine reform

I am extremely concerned that the Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has today put national poker machine reform at risk, moving away from his previous support for the Government’s legislation.

I have worked closely with Mr Wilkie for almost 18 months to deliver changes to poker machines that will help problem gamblers and their families.

On 21 January this year Mr Wilkie gave the public a commitment that he would support the Government’s poker machine reform package:

“So I will support the Government’s reforms announced today when they come to parliament… they are still worth voting for. So I will give support to the Government for those.”

Andrew Wilkie press conference, Hobart, 21 January 2012

Mr Wilkie knows that if he reneges on his agreement to support the Government’s legislation then he will stop genuine national poker machine reform in this country.

The Government has been pursuing a trial of mandatory pre-commitment in the ACT for almost a year in consultation with Mr Wilkie. We made a formal offer to ClubsACT as part of our reform package announced on 21 January – reforms Mr Wilkie said he would support.

Mr Wilkie told ABC Hobart on 18 January this year:

“The Government then turned its attention to the ACT and has been discussing a trial with the clubs in the ACT… I would support that as well.”

I met with Mr Wilkie on Monday this week and he raised some concerns about the design of the ACT trial. I told him that we would work on these issues in consultation with him. I too want a proper, robust and independent trial of mandatory pre-commitment.

I urge Mr Wilkie not to block genuine, long-lasting reforms that will help problem gamblers and their families.

The Gillard Government has a clear plan to tackle problem gambling, helping the five million Australians affected by problem gambling in this country.

The Gillard Government will do more to tackle problem gambling than any Commonwealth Government in Australia’s history.