The NSW Greens are calling for a Special Commission of Inquiry into the impact of the gambling and racing industries in NSW and the influence of the gambling and racing industries on NSW political parties.
NSW Greens Gambling Harm Spokesperson Justin Field said, “The Opera House debacle is just the tip of the iceberg.
“The public can see the racing and gambling industries have too much influence over the major political parties in this state. We need an independent public inquiry to restore public confidence and to hold the behaviour of this industry and the politicians who do their bidding to account.
The call follows the decision of the NSW Liberal National Coalition to sign a new pre-election agreement with Clubs NSW that will lock in the massive community harm caused by poker machines in NSW.
Mr Field said, “this is just the latest example of the NSW Coalition siding with the big pokies clubs over the community interest. They should be signing an agreement with the people of NSW to address gambling harm, not an agreement with the pokies clubs industry.
“The agreement locks the people of NSW in to providing beneficial tax arrangements for the pokies clubs over the next four years. This agreement will undoubtedly see the devastating consequences of gambling harm continue to grow in NSW with poker machine profits set to reach almost $7bn by 2021 growing more than 12% over the next four years.
“These sorts of agreements are anti-democratic and another example of vested special interests getting the ear of political parties while the community is shut out.
“Signing a new Memorandum of Understanding is even worse given the growing evidence of systemic failures in the regulation and enforcement of poker machines rules in NSW.
“We have seen hotels, clubs and casinos accused of unconscionable conduct like machine tampering, supplying free drinks and keeping secret dossiers of players to encourage people to play more.
“The racing industry has also received special tax treatment that has been championed by both the Liberal and Labor Parties and more recently the racing industry, racing broadcasters and online gambling business received special exemptions from laws designed to protect people with a gambling addiction.
“The public are sick of seeing former politicians from both of the major parties turning up as lobbyists or senior executives in the racing and gambling industries. Former Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell, who is now CEO of Racing Australia, was involved in the correspondence that led to these special exemptions from ‘inducement to gamble’ laws for the racing industry.
“We need a public inquiry into the behaviour of this industry and their influence on the political parties in this state,” Mr Field said.
NOTICE OF MOTION
Mr Field says—
I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
- That this house notes the systemic and serious breaches of gambling laws in this state and the bullying, conflicts of interest, regulatory capture and special treatment that has become the hallmark of the relationship between the gambling and racing industries and their broadcast partners in NSW and the major political parties in NSW, including:
- The decision last weekend by the NSW Liberal and National Parties to sign a new agreement with Clubs NSW that in effect protect profits for NSW clubs while restraining the Government from taking steps to reform poker machine regulations in the public interest. These agreements represent an unmanageable conflict of interest that should not be able to be signed by any political party or candidate.
- The appalling recent bullying of the Chief Executive Officer of the Opera House, Louise Herron, by 2GB radio broadcaster, Alan Jones.
- The decision of the NSW Premier to override the Chief Executive Officer of the Opera House to allow Racing NSW to promote The Everest horse race on the sails of the Opera House, against the Opera House branding policy and against community expectations that the Opera House not be used for the benefit of the racing and gambling industries. And the unequivocal support of NSW Labor to use the Harbour Bridge for The Everest promotion
- The special treatment of the racing industry by the NSW Government in exempting racing broadcasts and racing-specific gambling platforms from inducement to gamble laws that were designed to reduce gambling harm.
- The significant increase in racing related gifts to Liberal and Labor Party MPs since 2014/15 as acknowledged in recent disclosures with Sports Minister Stuart Ayres and Labor Leader Luke Foley being the largest individual recipients.
- The admission by Woolworths in August, following allegations in February this year, that staff at its ALH hotels collected personal information on high turnover pokies players and shared the data among its pubs to enable staff to encourage them to increase their losses and offered free drinks to high value customers to encourage further gaming activity. Despite almost eight months passing since the allegations were first raised, there has been no action by the NSW Government.
- The practices of Dee Why RSL in compelling and rewarding players to remain on poker machines that have been publicly linked to the suicide of Gary Van Duinen in June 2018 and the failure of the Government to meaningfully respond to those practices.
- The failure of governance at the Illawarra Steelers Club that allowed unconscionable practices of providing free alcohol and large cash advances to poker machine players to continue for some time. Despite a substantial fine, the behaviour points to systemic problems of this sort within the industry, especially given the Chairman of the Steelers Club is also the Clubs Australia President and the Chairman of Clubs NSW.
- The failure of the NSW Government to meaningfully and transparently investigate possible poker machine tampering in NSW following whistleblower reports of systemic poker machine tampering at Crown Casino in Melbourne.
- The escalating profits of the poker machine industry in NSW which is expected to reach $7 billion per year by 2021 despite claims by Government of efforts to reduce gambling harm. Recent legislative changes which implements some of the Government’s 2014 Memorandum of Understanding have only further increased profit forecasts and were supported unequivocally by the NSW Labor Party.
- The 60% racing wagering tax cut announced in the 2015 state budget, which was a key campaign of NSW Labor in the 2015 State Election, and the write off of a $10 million dollar loan to the racing industry.
- The revolving door between major political parties and the racing and gambling industry illustrated by, but not limited to, former Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell who is now the Chief Executive Officer of Racing Australia and form Federal Labor Minister Stephen Conroy, now Executive Director of Responsible Wagering Australia.
- The ongoing substantial political donations donations made to the Liberal, National and Labor Parties in Australia by the gambling industry including in the most recent federal disclosures for 2016/17, $614,825 to the Liberal Party and $419,234 to the labor Party.
- That this house also notes the devastating consequences of gambling harm in the NSW community and that NSW has the highest per person per year gambling losses of any jurisdiction in the world.
That this House call on the Government to initiate a Special Commission of Inquiry into the impact of the gambling and racing industries in NSW and the influence of the gambling and racing industries on NSW political parties.