My Alcoholic Friends – Why the government is addicted to pokies and booze

Posted: April 9, 2014 in Politics

If there are two industries that need are need of a drastic overhaul it is the liquor and gaming industries.

These two industries are of course closely related it should come as no surprise.

In America, these are the industries that made the mafia rich through bootlegging and casino’s.

In Australia it would seem these industries make themselves rich, buy political candidates and fund election campaigns.

If we cast our minds back to when we had the last real debate over poker machine reform it was when the Gillard Government was in power and it had been pushed up the agenda by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

At the time any attempt for meaningful discussion was drowned out by a massive campaign from the clubs. There were television campaigns, there were magazine and newspaper adverts, there was even political commentary by the commentators at a final series Rugby League match. People walking into pubs and clubs were also greeted by a big sign talking of politicians trying to destroy their clubs and a picture of theirs or another Labor MP on it, even Catholic Clubs proving religion and politics do mix, but only when it suits them and their cashflow.

Welcome to your club...

Welcome to your club…

Needless to say it was a dirty campaign, and it would seem the gaming industry won that fight.

For Tony Abbott and his merry bench of opposition men (clearly looking at his front bench now the women didn’t count for much) one would have thought that it may have been tempting to be bi-partisan on something and make a real positive difference to people lives, but alas, ‘twas not to be.

At the time most thought that his opposition to pokies reform was just a chance to say No once again and take once again put a wrecking ball through any hope of a positive agenda under a Gillard government.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Some of you may recall the Young Liberals fundraiser in which Alan Jones made the speech which referring to the death of Julia Gillard’s father that had occurred recently. That event had Simon Berger as its Master Of Ceremonies, Simon Berger worked in political relations at Wooloworths.

Berger even donated a jacket mad of chaff bags for auction in a reference to shock-jock Alan Jones comments encouraging the assassination of our then Prime Minister.

I remember the outrage that this event caused, Abbott trying to distance himself and the Liberals all pretending to be ashamed of what was said.

Woolworths eventually had to dump Berger like the inhuman piece of crap that he is due to the sheer volume of public outrage.

So ashamed were the Liberals of the behaviour at the event, the references to Gillard’s fathers passing and the chaff bag remarks that they hired Berger. His LinkedIn account currently has him claiming to be a “Senior Advisor at Parliament Of Australia”.

So what does all of this have to do with pokies?

Woolworths are huge owners of poker machines in Australia, some say the largest although there are conflicting reports.

image_1029_full

Woolworths show of support for Abbott was clear in its political lobbyist MCing a Young Liberal function. Abbott’s show of loyalty for Woolworths staff was shown by the Liberals hiring Berger after Woolworths eventually tried to distance themselves from him.

I also note that during his election campaign Tony Abbott held many press conferences from within Woolworths stores.

However it is not just Abbott and the Liberal Party’s relationship with Woolworths that raises eyebrows, it is the way in which the Liberal Party raise money that is really questionable.

Tony Abbott and Mt Druitt failure Isabelle White, talking the stuff that fertilises the fresh food...

Tony Abbott and Mt Druitt failure Isabelle White, talking the stuff that fertilises the fresh food…

Appearing before the Independent Commission Against Corruption this week was a man by the name of Paul Nicolaou.

Mr Nicolaou was being asked questions about a meeting he set up between Qld Premier Campbell Newman in his previous role as Brisbane Lord Mayor and the head of a company linked to the Obeid family, a meeting that apparently came with a $5,000 price tag.

Paul Nicolaou is the head of the Liberal Party’s fund raising arm The Millennium Forum. This is the group responsible for the fundraising for Liberal Party federal election campaigns including that of Tony Abbott

Paul Nicolaou also has a day job. Nicolaou is the NSW Chief Executive of the Australian Hotels Association.

It is fair to say that Nicolaou is paid to look after the interests of pubs and clubs and what makes the profit. It is also fair to say that the biggest money spinner (pardon the pun) for pubs and clubs is poker machines, and liquor would be clearly second.

Paul Nicolaou suddenly finds himself with a lot on his plate

Paul Nicolaou suddenly finds himself with a lot on his plate

Poker Machines would want to be making them money.

Australia has approximately five times as many poker machines as the United States Of America according to Wikipedia. The NSW AHA has done well for itself with over half of the countries pokies located in NSW, Sydney has more poker machines than Las Vegas.

Restrictions have even been lifted so that bigger and better gambling machines can be rolled out into the suburbs to suck more money out of those who can least afford to lose it.

With the man responsible for more than half of the nation’s poker machines being in charge of the funding of Tony Abbotts election campaign is it any wonder Abbott was resisting change?

Before looking after funding for federal campaigns, the Millennium Forum managed NSW campaign funding for the Liberals. This was until in NSW the former Labor Government made it illegal for the Liquor, Gaming and Tobacco industries to make political donations.

Here in NSW we have seen what many in the police force have described as a bloodbath in our city streets on a Friday and Saturday night, and it is only recently, despite public pressure, that controversial changes have been made by the Coalition in NSW although many say new laws just move the problem to some of the nearby suburbs.

A great night out in Sydney CBD?

A great night out in Sydney CBD?

Many of the new changes have laid the responsibility for behaviour problems back onto the public themselves and a lot onto the city police as well as the court system.

What has been forced to shoulder little of the burden is the pubs and clubs themselves.

Many have suggested that venues should face licensing restrictions and closing down if responsible service of alcohol regulations have been breached. Basically that the pubs and clubs should be made to clean up the mess that they create.

Back before public outcry grew to such a deafening volume that Barry O’Farrell was forced to act, Mike Carlton wrote another of his excellent pieces for Fairfax which finished off with this;

 

…the O’Farrell government does nothing, apparently terrified of offending the publican lobby, the all-powerful NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association.

It’s no coincidence that AHA chief executive Paul Nicolaou is a Liberal Party heavy and former election candidate (twice failed), who was once boss of the Tories’ fund-raising arm, the Millennium Foundation. He is also known to be a good mate of his fellow Greek-Australian, George Souris, the Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Racing, who should be cracking the whip here.

But Souris is not. And nor is the Premier. The government’s inaction is disgraceful.”

We have all seen and hear about how the office of Assistant Health Minister runs under the control of Fiona Nash and the junk food industry.

We have seen the results of a Liberal Party in NSW whose executive until recently was made up of lobbyists who designed party policy to suit their client’s needs rather than the publics. In particular the insurance industry which in NSW has massively benefited from the slashing of workers compensation saving the industry billions while injured workers are left to fend for themselves, the closure of fire stations so that insurance companies could slug us with an increased fire levy, and of course a hefty rise in Green Slip pricing.

While at Federal level it should be no surprise that Medibank Private is being sold off and that there are changes coming to Medicare that will no doubt hurt the consumer while the insurance company CEO’s give themselves another fat pay rise.

What many of us probably didn’t realise is that our Coalition governments at Federal and State level are nothing but puppets of the Liquor and Gaming Industry, and even Fiona Nash would have to realise that isn’t real healthy.

Well we are all starting to see the ugly truth now, and we don’t like what we see.

Even with beer goggles on…

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Comments
  1. M-R says:

    But this is just ANOTHER ugly truth, Wixxy … we haven’t liked what we see for am awful long time …

  2. Steve Ackerman says:

    Read the Productivity Commission report into problem gambling, the findings are shocking. The club industry etc took their lead from the mining lobby and got what they wanted. Shameful.

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