Gillard sledges tobacco donations, pockets $2m from pokies giants

August 9, 2010

Dear Readers,

It's hard work getting the pokies issue up through the media in a federal election context but surely today's developments will bring it on in a meaningful way.

Crikey has just published the following snippet:

Ciggies back, but pokie addiction remains

Lovely to hear Julia Gillard ripping into the Liberals today for accepting big tobacco donations. This would be the same Julia Gillard who yesterday visited a distribution centre owned by Woolworths, Australia's biggest pokies operator with 12,000 machines. Woolies donated $20,000 to the ALP in 2008-09, but that was just the start of Labor's pokies industry donations. Clubs NSW gave Labor $85,000 in 2008-09 and $203,000 in 2007-08. Then you have the Australian Hotels Association which gave more than $200,000 in 2008-09 alone, not to mention the party's own Canberra Labor Club which handed over more than $1 million in the first two years of the Rudd-Gillard government. Given Australian has the lowest smoking rate in the world and the highest gambling rate in the world, it seems hard to fathom why Labor treats these two “sin industries” so differently when it comes to political donations – Stephen Mayne, independent anti-pokies Senate candidate

Here is the evidence of Labor's unholy dependence on pokies donations, complete with links to the AEC donations data base:

Australian Hotels Association (NSW): 4 donations worth $130,000 to NSW Labor in 2008-09

Australian Hotels Association (SA): 19 donations worth $47,000 in 2007-08 to the South Australian Labor branch and a further 16 different donations worth about $70,000 in 2008-09.

Canberra Labor Club: operates 4 pokies venues for the ALP and donated $558,000 in 2007-08 and $502,000 in 2008-09.

Clubs NSW: 13 donations worth $203,000 to NSW ALP in 2007-08 and 9 donations worth $85,000 in 2008-09.

Tabcorp: pokies duopolist in Victoria made 7 donations worth $138,000 to various ALP branches in 2007-08 and 6 donations worth $150,000 to Labor in 2008-09.

Woolworths (ALH): $20,000 donation to Queensland Labor in 2008-09.

With Woolworths, Julia Gillard doesn't seem to know what she's dealing with and should read this this account of last year's Woolies AGM before heading to another Woolies venue for a campaign stunt like she did in Sydney yesterday.

There are plenty of other smaller donations which mean that Labor has harvested more than $2 million from gambling interests ever since Kevin Rudd made this famous declaration in 2007: "I hate poker machines and I know something of their impact on families. I have spoken at length with Tim Costello on this."

So, the Labor Party bag men clearly prevailed over Kevin Rudd as the donations kept flowing, but what does Julia Gillard think about the pokies and how can she defend taking industry donations when she's attempting to shame Tony Abbott for doing the same with the tobacco industry?

I emailed some of these thoughts to ABC radio's The World Today earlier today and they did an interview with an academic who focused on tobacco donations but also made some good points about late donations disclosure and the mining industry lobby, whilst ignoring the gambling industry.

Surely on a day like today, the media should give pokies donations a big run? If Laurie Oakes felt it necessary to challenge Tony Abbott last Sunday about political staffers punting on the election result, surely it's worth broadening today's tobacco donations argument into something broader including other "sin industries" like the pokies.

Trying to interest Kerry O'Brien in the pokies

At some point in this campaign Julia Gillard will have to express a view on the pokies per se, not just donations from their industry. The following email was sent to Kerry O'Brien and his senior people yesterday ahead of his 22 minute interview with the PM last night:

Hi Kerry, Ben and Heather,

Julia Gillard has been engaged on most social issues such as marriage, religion, teen drinking, tattoos on young girls etc, but we've never heard from her on gambling. We are the world's biggest gamblers in per capita terms with pokies producing the majority of the revenue.

Rudd declared he hated the pokies whilst opposition leader and Oakes quoted Xenophon whilst hitting Abbott last Sunday with the question of whether staffers should gamble on the election.

Whilst it would never be a central point of any interview, any of the following questions would generate plenty of interest:

Possible Pokies Question

Are you comfortable with Australians being the biggest gamblers in the world?

Kevin Rudd said he hates the pokies. What's your position and are you going to do anything about it.

Are you comfortable with having the biggest pokies venue in Victoria, the Woolworths owned Werribee Plaza Tavern, in your electorate?

The Productivity Commission recommended a $1 maximum bet on the pokies in its report earlier this year. Kevin Rudd rejected this approach. What's your view?

. Poker machine losses in your home state of Victoria were $2.6 billion last financial year. These losses are concentrated in poorer areas represented by Labor MPs such as yourself. How do you justify the social damage when the Productivity Commission found 40% of all losses come from problem gamblers?

Labor has stopped taking tobacco donations. Why do you continue to accept money from gambling companies. They are both so called sin industries aren't they?

There is more detail on all of the issues around pokies

Regards, Stephen Mayne

Independent Senate candidate in Victoria standing on anti-pokies platform

The last time a PM was asked about the pokies

Alas, like with most mainstream media so far in this election, Kerry O'Brien opted to pursue other issues. The last time a Labor PM was asked about the pokies and tobacco was at the Melbourne Press Club three months ago. Check out Kevin Rudd's ducking and weaving below:

Gillard to miss tonight's big Labor fundraiser in Melbourne

The Age reported earlier this week that Julia Gillard has pulled out of the Victorian ALP's big fundraiser at The Sofitel tonight due to donor fatigue, fears of bad publicity and the need to keep campaigning in Queensland. The story included the following:

Business leaders and donors in Ms Gillard's home town will each pay $1000. Ad man Bill Shannon, a founder of Progressive Business, insists it has ''never ever been mainly about fund-raising''. He says the group's ''most important role is communication, listening to business''.

It's a far cry from 1999 when more than 800 people squeezed into the Hyatt for the body's first function, amid excitement at Steve Bracks's surprise victory over Jeff Kennett.

Indeed, that event remains the biggest ALP fundraiser in history and the guest list we nicked that night remains one of the most popular pages on our website. Check out all the gambling types and every one else who handed over $1000 to attend 11 years ago.

It will be interesting to see how many gambling industry types turn up this evening.

How to help the anti-pokies campaign: flyers and donations

The prospects of a win in the Senate are extremely remote but we're pushing hard. Anyone who wants to make a difference on the pokies is encouraged to print out this PDF version of the following flyer and distribute it to letter boxes up and down their street. Needs to be in Victoria, of course. And any suggestions for improvements on the text and design are welcome to

Unlike the major political parties, we'll be upfront about campaign finance. Donations so far are now pushing $1500 but we'll need plenty more to have a meaningful impact.

If anyone feels inclined to kick the anti-pokies campaign along, click on the image below:

And if you've available to hand out some how-to-vote cards on August 21 at some of the 1866 polling places across Victoria, please email Paula on

Supporting strong immigration and women on boards

The two other policies we're pushing in this Senate tilt are strong support for immigration and multi-culturalism and legislative changes to mandate public company boards to have at least 20% female representation. The women on boards argument was prosecuted in our last email and then during this interview with Deborah Cameron on 702 ABC Sydney at 8.30am yesterday morning.

And the pro-immigration position was prosecuted in this recent Catherine McGrath story on ABC24:

Finally, here are a few more packages and links on the pokies

Nick Xenophon speech to the pokies moguls - if only Gillard and Abbott could speak like this

Labor can't seem to accept the enormous social damage being caused to tens of thousands of Australia by the world's most lethal poker machines. We're not against gambling, but pokies are the addiction for 85% of all problem gamblers.

Any Labor Party person with a social conscience only has to watch the video of the speech given by veteran problem gambling counsellor Bernie Durkin at a conference held at Manningham's council offices on May 6, 2010 to gauge the true sickness of this government-sponsored problem.

Check out this package of our past pokies coverage and this playlist of pokies related videos, including the type we "kidnapped" Nick Xenophon during the 2007 federal election campaign.

Also, check out the latest from Paul Bendat's Pokieact website, and finally, check out this 30 second anti-pokies ad made by Paul Bendat last year featuring our daughter Alice, who was 6 at the time:

Sign up for our Tweets

With more than 1800 followers on Twitter, we are regularly dropping out observations from the federal election campaign, including preference negotiation meetings, forthcoming media and other developments. Click on the image above to get the latest updates from all our activity and here are some recent examples:

10.05am August 4: Gillard slams Libs 4 tobacco cash! ALP loves gambling donations & Gillard visited biggest pokies operator Woolies yesterday which has 12000.

1.51pm August 3: Just gave grabs for pokies package on Fran Kelly 2morrow. Plus check out ABC24 immigration grabs:

9.47am August 3: Sent out big campaign update today. Interviewed by Deb Cameron on ABC Sydney about women on boards post DJs See:

8.01pm August 2: Gave a keynote on governance to 250 IT, risk & audit types at Grand Hyatt this arvo. Home in time to see Gillard offer eco debate. Hooray.

2.29pm August 2: Great to see DJs cop $37m writ over lech CEO. Listen to my hit on blokey board at AGM

12.13pm August 2: The real Julia should agree to at least 1 more debate with Abbott. She normally beats him so why not throw off the shackles and bring it on.

10.27am August 2: Howard gave W Bulldogs $8m in 04 campaign Ex ALP nat sec turned BHP fixer Geoff Walsh now on board Gillard gets huge run by pokies pushers

11.33pm August 1: Listen to bizarre claims of David Barker and rebuttal an hour ago on 2GB:

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

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