PR heavyhitters Neil Lawrence and Sue Cato have today launched an advertising campaign in favour of serious poker machine reform.
The Stop the Loss Coalition -- which includes churches, The Salvation Army and activist group GetUp! – hopes the ads will encourage Julia Gillard to strengthen her poker machine reform legislation by adopting a $1 bet limit and/or a pre-commitment scheme.
Plans for the campaign, revealed by The Power Index last month, were hatched before Gillard backed away from her deal with Andrew Wilkie to introduce a pre-commitment legislation this year.
Getup! Director Simon Sheikh told The Power Index this morning that Andrew Wilkie is currently negotiating amendments to the government's poker reform bill with Anthony Albanese. Pro-reform campaigners would prefer a trial to be held in Tasmania – or, at the very least, for an ACT trial to include Queanbeyan, just over the NSW border.
Sheikh said GetUp! and other groups will be ramping up pressure on Woolworths and Coles, the which own the most poker machines in the country, to introduce stricter betting limits.
"Power doesn't just exist in Canberra – it exists in the boardrooms."
Reverend Tim Costello said today: "The Productivity Commission recommended two years ago that Australian machines should be slowed down to $1 bets limiting losses to a maximum $120 per hour, but this has again been ignored.
"And the lack of benchmarks for the ACT trial of mandatory pre-commitment makes determining its success or failure near impossible.
"This draft legislation can and should be improved to include serious reform measures, and I would encourage the Government to respond to listen and respond to community views and sentiment."