Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Another Latham backflip

Opposition Leader, Mr Latham, has broken more promises today with the release of his gambling policy.

The promises Mr Latham made earlier this year to tackle problem gambling haven’t lasted six months:

  • strict laws forcing gaming venues to close for part of the day – Gone!
  • loss-limiting smart cards – Gone!
  • mandatory cooling-off periods – Gone!

While he appears to have come to his senses that severe action without evidence was not the solution, Mr Latham continues to fail to acknowledge that every dollar of gambling tax revenue goes to the Labor state and territory governments.

In January, Mr Latham criticised his state and territory colleagues for being too reliant on gambling tax revenue. He is strangely silent on this issue today. In fact, he has provided a green light for his state and territory Labor colleagues to continue to collect record windfall taxes from gamblers.

Unfortunately, the fact is that less than half a percent (on average) of the total tax take of around $4 billion is spent by each state and territory on problem gambling services.

But Mr Latham’s policy has absolved the state and territory governments of any responsibility to address problem gambling. Labor fails to acknowledge all that has been achieved in a cooperative fashion to date.

The Howard Government has taken a significant leadership role in cooperation with the state and territory governments. For example:

  • Establishing the National Framework on problem gambling which was agreed to at the recent Ministerial Council on Gambling.
  • Establishing a $1.5 million national gambling research program to provide effective early intervention and prevention measures for those at risk of problem gambling.
  • The Howard Government understands that youth have different issues in regards to problem gambling and has committed to $175,000 to fund research into this area. Mr Latham has ignored this vital area.

Problem gambling is a serious issue for Australians and the Howard Government is taking the lead ensuring all levels of government and the community are working together.