Deakin University’s gambling expert Professor Linda Hancock has called on the Federal government to act ethically, morally and for its own accountability in the public interest on gambling reform.
Her call made in the latest issue of Dissent magazine comes as Independent MP Andrew Wilke threatens to destroy the government's poker machine reforms unless his demands are met.
“Public policy requires a ‘policy window’ to put an issue on the agenda and to keep it ‘hot’,” she explained.
“The policy window on gambling has stayed open for an unprecedented period.
“It has flushed out vested interests as opposition to meaningful reforms exposed the Clubs lobby $40 million fighting fund; backed quietly by the hotels, Australian Hotels Association and the Australian casino industry – all players with a stake in maintaining business as usual.
“The Wilkie agreement was a written, signed pledge to act.
“For ordinary people, does this mean when we sign mortgages, we can walk away and not owe the bank money?”
Professor Hancock said the Federal focus on reforming the gambling industry had been an an opportunity to demonstrate national leadership and principled public policy and to show that the Prime Minister had enough clout to publicly put pressure on her pro-gambling backbenchers to honour the deal that put them into government.
“Surely respect for integrity is better than ‘winning’ at all costs?” Professor Hancock said.
“Shouldn’t the Commonwealth government act ethically, morally and for its own accountability in the public interest?”
Professor Hancock said with in excess of 115,000 ‘problem gamblers’ in Australia, and an additional estimated 280,000 at ‘moderate risk’ each year, gambling was a substantial cost to the Australian community.
Player losses now exceeds $19 billion annually in Australia, she said.
The full article can be read in Dissent Issue 38, 2012.
Dissent is available through bookshops and newsagencies.