Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Barnett Government playing politics on pokies

Today’s comments by Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett on poker machines are wrong.

Premier Barnett is simply scaremongering.

On ABC 720 Perth today Mr Barnett incorrectly claimed:

“My concern is as soon as the Commonwealth enters into this realm of regulating poker machines it opens the door to the eventual introduction of poker machines into West Australia.”

State and Territory Governments decide the number and location of poker machines in their state. This will remain the case.

I have today written to Mr Barnett to explain that the Australian Government’s reforms are targeted at making poker machines safer for problem gamblers and will not impact on the number of poker machines in Western Australia, or any other state or territory.

Mr Barnett would have known this if his Government had been participating in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Select Council on Gambling Reform.

Western Australia is the only state or territory that declined to participate in the COAG Select Council on Gambling Reform.

The invitation remains open and I strongly encourage Mr Barnett and his Government to attend the next meeting on 25 February to get the facts on the Australian Government’s gambling reforms.

The legal advice from the Australian Government Solicitor released on 1 February 2011 clearly relates to the three areas of reform. These are a full pre-commitment scheme and dynamic warning and cost of play displays for all poker machines, and a $250 daily withdrawal limit for ATMs in gambling venues excluding casinos.

While the legal advice indicates there are legislative options available to the Australian Government to implement these specific measures, we are committed to reaching an agreement with the states and territories to progress these important reforms.

Problem gambling destroys families and ruins lives.

Instead of working with the Australian Government to introduce reforms that will minimise the harm from poker machines, Mr Barnett is just playing politics with this important issue.