28 July 2015
Dirty money and dirty deals: Pollies caught in bed with pokies barons
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will call for stricter political donation disclosure laws after more revelations of dirty pokies money flowing to the major parties.
At a Tasmanian level, he will call on Premier Will Hodgman to commit to ending Federal Hotels’ exclusive right to operate pokies in Tasmania at the earliest possible date of 30 June 2018.
Mr Wilkie said the revelation that the pokies industry gave at least $75,000 to support the re-election of Liberals’ Kevin Andrews - the chief architect of his party’s industry-approved pokies policy - highlighted the urgent need for political donation disclosure reform.
``In my opinion these huge donations are made with the expectation of payback,’’ Mr Wilkie said. ``And the pokies industry hit the jackpot with these donations to the Menzies 200 Club, a fundraising body supporting Mr Andrews. This is dirty money and Australia’s weak political donation disclosure laws make the donations little different to handing over great wads of cash in a brown paper bag.
``We need much lower thresholds for donation disclosure and much shorter timeframes for reporting.’’
Licence to print money
Mr Wilkie will also call on Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman to end Federal Hotels’ exclusive right to operate pokies in the State.
``In 2003 the then Labor State Government gifted Federal Hotels a licence to print money in the Deed of Agreement which grants exclusive rights to Federal Hotels to operate gaming machines in Tasmania,’’ Mr Wilkie said.
``The agreement expires on 30 June 2018 and the Minister has the discretion not to renew the five-year rolling term on that date. Last month I wrote to Mr Hodgman requesting confirmation of this power and whether it would be exercised or the agreement extended to 2023.’’
Mr Wilkie said in light of this week’s revelation that the pokies industry gave $75,000 to a body to support the re-election of Liberals’ Kevin Andrews as he was drafting the party’s pokies policy, the Tasmanian Liberal Party must reveal any gambling donations it has accepted as it considers any new licence in Tasmania.
Mr Wilkie said he was still waiting for answers from the Premier and, after the revelation last week that Federal Hotels’ Wrest Point had again been fined for faulty poker machines, the public deserved answers.
``Given Mr Hodgman’s criticism in opposition to the secretive process and costly outcome of the agreement negotiated in 2003, and the Liberal Party’s commitment in opposition to introduce $1 bet limits on gaming machines, I believe the Tasmanian people deserve an explanation of the Government’s intentions after June 2018,’’ he said.
Mr Wilkie will also call on the Premier to reveal whether the audit of Federal Hotels’ poker machines for faults will be an in-house snow job or an independent review.
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