-- The gambling industry has just launched a $20 million campaign to try and scuttle reform on pokies. That's why we're teaming up with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and our friends at Avaaz to launch a huge national petition in support of reforms that could help families affected by problem gambling. Can you add your name today, and forward Mr. Wilkie's message below to friends and family? --
Dear Sheryl, Problem gamblers can easily lose more than $1,000 an hour on poker machines. It tears families apart, houses are lost and kids go hungry. That's why the machines are referred to as the 'crack cocaine of the gambling industry.'
In this Parliament we have our best chance ever to tackle the problem on account of the agreement for reform I have with the Government. But the powerful Clubs Australia has just announced that it will spend $20 million to stop that happening. And we all know what the mining industry achieved with its $20-million advertising campaign against the super profits tax last year.
It will take a committed effort to win this fight. Let's give it an enormous boost with a huge national petition to show my colleagues and the media that while Clubs Australia has the money, we have the people. I'll launch the petition with GetUp at the National Press Club today and present it to the Prime Minister when we reach 100,000 names.
Please add your voice and forward this to everyone you know. www.getup.org.au/campaign/pokies
A mother recently gave a searingly honest account of her rapid descent into pokies addiction at the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform that I chair. She had gambled all her life without a problem, but that changed when she was introduced to poker machines. In her words, she changed from a happy-go-lucky, socially-active mother and friend to a restless, isolated, depressed and suicidal woman. The nurse spent her days gambling on pokies, only breaking to pick up the kids from school and grab less than two hours sleep before heading to work the night shift in an intensive care unit at her local hospital.
I have heard countless variations of this story during my years pushing for action on poker machines. These personal stories are the reason we need to clean up this industry, in particular with policies like gamblers nominating how much they are prepared to lose, and maximum withdrawl limits from ATMs in gambling venues. But while I have an agreement with the Prime Minister to make this happen, the fight is not yet won. Some MPs have even told me that they don't believe strong poker machine reform will ever happen: they simply can't believe that an industry this powerful, with this much money at its disposal, could ever lose.
It will take a huge public movement to stop the powerful gambling lobby from getting its way. I hope you'll be part of it, and that you'll ask your friends and family to join too: www.getup.org.au/campaign/pokies
What are we fighting for? The industry spends millions of dollars designing poker machines to be as addictive as possible - to give problem gamblers as little chance as possible to kick a habit that can destroy families. That's why we must give these families simple tools to help them make their own choices, including a system where gamblers pre-commit how much they want to spend on a given day (known as 'pre-commitment').
The clubs industry is one of the most powerful in Australia. Its political influence is impossible to overestimate, and it will fight to the last penny to keep making a fortune at the expense of Australian families. But with your support I know we can build a campaign that proves the voices of the people can be louder then those of vested interest.
Thanks for taking part, Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison