Current pollies sympathetic to pokies industry

March 27, 2019

Here is a list of current elected representatives with known associations to or sympathies towards the gambling industry.

Kevin Andrews: led the charge against the Gillard-Wilkie reforms in 2011 and subsequently received $30,000 in donations from Clubs NSW, even though he's a Victorian MP. Has held numerous political functions at Woolworths-owned pokies venues in Menzies.

Daniel Andrews: the Victorian Premier received $300 worth of free grog from an AHA member for an election night party after holding his seat at the 2006 state poll. As Fairfax noted at the time, he subsequently became the gaming minister who do little to roll back the damage of high intensity pokies in pubs. Even worse, Andrews has personally intervened to do a sweetheart deal with James Packer to allow Crown to build the biggest building in the southern hemisphere next to its already enormous Melbourne casino complex. As 7.30 reminded viewers in April, Crown founder Lloyd Williams, the joint executor of Kerry Packer's estate, was caught on camera in 2014 promising then opposition leader Daniel Andrews that “James is going to kick every goal he can for you”. It will be interesting to see if Andrews attempts to rush through the new post-2022 pokies arrangements before the November 2018 state election or instead seek a mandate from the people for whatever he is planning. NSW issues perpetual pokies licences so it doesn't have to grapple with this issue.

Andrew Barr: the ACT Chief Minister refuses to follow the advice of one of his ALP predecessors, John Stanhope, and advocate for the Labor Party to sell their 4 pokies dens in Canberra. Instead, he has become embedded in pokies politics, pushing through a plan to give the Canberra casino pokies whilst also sponsoring the formation of a breakaway clubs peak body which might be more co-operative with his political agenda. The ACT Greens forced Labor to commit to a 20% cut in pokies numbers before agreeing to form government last year, but there was no promise to get the party itself out of the pokies misery business.

Cr Leigh Byron: the mayor of Balranald Shire in western NSW is one of 7 blokes on the Euston Club board which derives $4 million of its $5.3 million in revenue from high intensity pokies. The board aren't paid any cash but there's a long list of uncapped benefits outlined on page 3 of the 2015-16 annual report which no doubt keep them well fed, travelled and incentivised to keep putting back into the community a fraction of what they take out.

John Darley: the South Australian independent moved an amendment in 2015 opposing a proposal to make it a little bit more difficult for citizens to access cash at pokies venues.

Cr Andrea Metcalf: the only Bendigo councillor this week who didn't vote for the council to fight a proposal by a group called Bendigo Stadium to install 44 poker machines at The Wellington Hotel.

David Leyonhjelm: resisting current legislation before the Senate to better regulate online gambling. At least he's consistent with his libertarian views on smoking and guns.

Cr Peter Nunan: the Wentworth shire councillor sports the thickest moustache in western NSW and is also vice president of the Coomealla Club which fleeces more than $5 million a year from its community through pokies, and then sends a fair chunk of that to Treasury in Sydney. Cr Nunan went public defending a fellow pokies apologist, Mildura's Cr Ali Cupper, in The Sunraysia Daily newspaper last week, pulling the old stunt of suggesting concern about addictive pokies is equivalent to wanting to shut down racing or ban Tattslotto. The regular “Coomie” directors are paid $2,000 a year, but also share in up to $50,000 of perks and benefits, as outlined on page 3 of the annual report. Not a bad gig, shame about the harm inflicted!

Geoff Provest: the National Party MP for Tweed Heads who spent 14 years as general manager of the Tweed Heads Bowls Club, which has extracted more than $200 million in pokies losses from its community over the past 25 years, leaving it with net assets of $33 million.