Crikey



Welching on Wilkie: Labor plays percentages on pokies

From the agreement between the Prime Minister and Andrew Wilkie, September 2, 1010:

The government … further commits to the following additional measures:

a) Implementing a best practice full pre-commitment scheme — that is uniform across all States and Territories and machines — consistent with recommendations and findings of the Productivity Commission. Implementation of pre-commitment arrangements will commence in 2012, with the full pre-commitment scheme commencing in 2014, with States and Territories to achieve this outcome …

If required, the government will support Commonwealth legislation through the Parliament by budget 2012.

Well, that’s not going to happen, despite the government’s “commitment” to Andrew Wilkie. At best it seems he’ll get a trial, in Canberra and Queanbeyan, assuming the ACT’s problem gamblers don’t drive over to Yass or up to Goulburn to throw their money away. Tony Abbott might have a problem with anything not written down, but the government, apparently, can’t even stick to what it has written down.

In policy terms, abandoning a rush into mandatory pre-commitment in favour of a serious trial is actually a good outcome: pre-commitment is an intrusive, unjustified interference with individuals’ rights, so the very least a government can do is test whether it will work before imposing it. And it enables Labor to end the frequently hysterical campaign being run against it by the hospitality industry that would have made the next election even more difficult than it already will be.

It also takes pressure off Wilkie, who no longer has the dilemma of determining whether, as he insisted he would, bring down the government in the event it tried, and failed, to get mandatory pre-commitment through the Parliament and tapped the mat on the issue. Instead, he’s tapped the mat, recognising that Peter Slipper has significantly reduced his bargaining power.

Still, I wouldn’t like to be Labor in the event Craig Thomson, or another MP in a marginal seat, falls under a bus and hands the Coalition an extra number, putting Wilkie’s support back in play. Having welched on its previous deal with him, Labor might find him reluctant to be made a fool of twice. It has now left Wilkie in the difficult position of explaining his own shift. He won’t forget in a hurry, if ever.

And then there’s Julia Gillard’s reputational problem — the perception that promises and commitments don’t matter to her if they get in the way of her political interests. It was a killer in relation to the carbon pricing package and abandoning her deal with Wilkie simply reinforces voters’ perceptions about her lack of trustworthiness — bearing in mind, of course, that at last count two-thirds of voters supported mandatory pre-commitment.

You could call it political ruthlessness, which it is. But it also looks a bit like yet another half-smart political play that this government excels at — moves that at first blush look clever politics, but eventually yield a host of problems. It might be the right political move in the short-term, but there are some serious longer-term risks.

The Gillard government may be lucky if this doesn’t come back and bite it.

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Categories: Federal

150 Responses

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  1. So despite this reported (and I stress only reported becuase nothing has actually been announced) being “a good outcome” policy wise, and despite the fact that even if it wanted to the govt couldn’t keep it’s promise to Wilkie as even though the majority of the population support the agreement the majority of the lower house don’t BK still finds reasons to criticise the govt for bad politics?

    Give me good policy over good politics any day!

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm

  2. .

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm

  3. This would be an optional pre-committment then ?

    by Andybob on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

  4. A Pandora’s Box was opened when the Big Miners discovered that all they needed to do in order to defeat a policy they didn’t like was to throw some loose change at the problem in the form of a shrill PR campaign, and hey presto, no more RSPT (no more Kevin Rudd for that matter). Labor has the chance to close the box and sit on it, by following through on it’s pokies reform commitment and demonstrating to Clubs Australia that it’s own shrill scare campaign is a waste of money. If they decide to back down, Clubs Australia, and everyone else for that matter, will conclude that not only was the campaign worth the cost, but at only a few million, it was bloody good value. When that happens Andrew Wilkie will be the least of their concerns.

    by MartyC on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

  5. On the midday news, ABC radio, I heard Abbott assert, that Julia Gillard will say anything to get elected etc and I nearly fell off my chair laughing. This is the same Tony Abbott that admitted to the same activities on 7.30 Report with Kerry O’Brien. He also said that unless it’s in writing, we shouldn’t believe anything he says. Talk about the pot and the kettle!

    I have a feeling that this is another instance of the Govt not doing its PR adequately. Why is the concept of ‘taking the first step’ or ‘challenging all lies and other fabrications - publicly’ so hard for the Gillard Govt to grasp? The mind boggles. What are the advisers doing? Using pen names and trolling on web sites - along with their coalition colleagues!

    I reckon that I could do a better job at putting paid to Abbott’s lies, because he doesn’t research anything, he just engages in one or two sentence nonsense comments that are repeated for the whole day. I swear by the 7 pm news this evening, he’s still uttering the same bs!

    by Liz45 on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

  6. Marty C - I agree with your sentiment but what constitutes backing down, is a trial followed by implementation2 years later in 2016 (in line with the PC report) backing down? And given the coalition and ket independents won’t support Wilkies original request is it better to achieve something rather than nothing?

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

  7. Has the PM said the Govt will not stick to the agreement with Wilkie? No? I didn’t think so….

    by david on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  8. @ Jimmy

    You would back ly ing Gillard even if she exploded a device in your local CBD… just amazing, she can do no wrong.

    She has li ed again, and you spin and yarn.

    Just amazing.

    Wilkie is a fool for believing her li es

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

  9. I’m surprised by Wilkie’s apparent change. Maybe he couldn’t get enough cross benchers to support mandatory pre commitment yet and so he is now trying for what he believes is the next best thing, a trial of pre commitment. But he hasn’t explained that yet and so far it looks as if he plans to break his initial undertaking.

    by Gavin Moodie on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

  10. SB - As david states “Has the PM said the Govt will not stick to the agreement with Wilkie? No? I didn’t think so” and would you prefer Gillard “honoured her word” to Wilkie and introduced a bill to have mandatory pre commitment by 2014 and watch it fail on the floor of the house or “break” her word introduce a trial with the full roll out in 2016 (as per the PC) and have the bill pass.

    I am sure Wilkie would prefer a 2 year delay than having no action taken.

    Also if the ALP went with $1 limits (as favoured by the independents and Greens) and Wilkie supported that as an achievable bill would she still be breaking her word?

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

  11. Jimmy - If they start watering it down now, by the time legislation comes about it will be soggier than an Italian cruise ship (too soon?). We’ve seen this before with the MRRT and prior to that Rudd’s ETS. I’m all for being pragmatic but this was a pretty modest and generally popular plan to begin with, it won’t be a good look if they start backpedaling now.

    by MartyC on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

  12. It is a very tacky but ruthlessly expedient play by Gillard but it is Wilkie who now looks totally emasculated. He promised to support this Govt (ie the government in this term of the parliament) on the basis that they legislate the pre-commitment. This Govt has jsust told him they won’t, at least not in this parliament, but will have a trial should they win the next election. Wilkie had said previously he would withdraw his support - now it seems he won’t - imagine that, a politician sayng one thing and doing another? Wilkie was portrayed by the media as almost a single issue candidate and he was happy to ride on that whilst it, and the fact the Govt needed his vote, lasted. Unless the Thomson issue explodes or someone dies I think Mr Wilkie, and his legislation, is now consigned to the dustbin.

    by Janus on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm

  13. @ Andybob - I think it might be called core and non-core committment

    by SimsonMc on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

  14. What’s it to be? Big brother or Our Father?

    by Bohemian on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm

  15. @ Jimmy

    You know as well as I do that ly ing Gillard will say whatever to stay in control / power. Next you will believ in fairies or that Tim is the partner and not a decoy.

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  16. Marty C - Completely agree but I suppose my query is does delaying by 2 years and having a trial that mihgt actually show the thing works amount to “watering it down”.

    And as I asked SB how is sticking to the original agreement and having the bill defeated a better outcome than delaying and getting a result.

    I would also say I saw a quote from clubs Australia today saying that if the trial showed the action reduced problem gambling it would be pretty hard to argue against it.

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  17. Bohemian - very droll! Just once you wished there was something in between

    by Janus on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  18. SB - That is really taking the level of debate to a higher level, a homophobic slur. And from my recollection it was not the PM who offered to sell her ar.se.

    I think it is time you actually decided whether you want to have a grown up discussion about policy and answer the questions put to you and support your statements with facts or move to a Ne ws L t d website.

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

  19. I hope Julia Gillard to be finished as Prime Minister and perhaps long gone by 2016. Wilkie has been chewed up by smart politicians. Sh.t happens. Edward James

    by Edward James on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

  20. Blake yu better back up that disgraceful slur on the PM or it goes to the editor

    by david on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

  21. @ Jimmy

    Even the headline on this website says “Welshing on Wilkie”

    This PM is an out and out li ar, and not even you can defend that. Go out there and ask in marginal seats.

    You sit there with blinkers on in a safe seat no douby, getting the ALP spin sheet sent to you, so you can comment on Cri key about this and that

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

  22. Wilke played his ace card too hard so whatever happens to his plan I have no sympathy for him . On the other hand we know that the pokie industry is out of control and something needs to be done . Going for a counter lunch can be enjoyable but it depends if the noise of the machines is out of earshot .
    Wilke saying that he would withdraw support if Labor failed to achieve his aims despite its best efforts lacked logic . Thats like saying to a sprinter that if you come second no silver medal .

    by geomac on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm

  23. This thread made it to the gutter in record time.

    Remember what GBS said -

    I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

    by Meski on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

  24. It is interesting how people perceive this as some sort of backdown or in the case of SB and the other great unwashed - lying. Yet when Howard did the same thing with the Democrats in relation to the GST, apparently they seem to think that the GST was one of Howard’s greatest achievements and gloss over the fact that he had too had to compromise and change is position to get an outcome. Now I agree with the statement that it was one of Howard’s better moments and that the GST was a good outcome. Could it be better? Certainly, I would love to see it on everything, no exemptions to close loop holes and adjust income tax accordingly. Was it a backdown? No. Howard worked with the cards he was dealt and as he put it, (paraphrasing) getting most of the GST was better than not implementing anything. People seem to forget that politics is a fluid concept which compromising is a main component.

    I think certain people are too quick to judge. Let’s see how this pans out first. We don’t know what will transpire so everything else is just speculation dressed up as insight.

    by SimsonMc on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

  25. SB - Yes I am in a safe seat, Wannon, held by the libs for ever and one of the biggest margins in the country.

    And I know what the headline is but as I pointed out in my original post BK refers to the delay and trial as a “a good outcome” policy wise, so instead of ranting, raving, abusing and slurring why don’t you answer the questions I have put to you rationally.

    1) would you prefer Gillard “honoured her word” to Wilkie and introduced a bill to have mandatory pre commitment by 2014 and watch it fail on the floor of the house or “break” her word introduce a trial with the full roll out in 2016 (as per the PC) and have the bill pass?

    2) Also if the ALP went with $1 limits (as favoured by the independents and Greens) and Wilkie supported that as an achievable bill would she still be breaking her word?

    David - No evidence or retraction time to go to the editor.

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

  26. Simonmc - Very well said, in a hung parliament especially if people were to stick dogmatically to their position nothing would be achieved. People need to realise that, to quote the rolling stones, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need”

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  27. @ Jimmy

    Gillards commitment (written mind you) was that she would negotiate the pokie refirm through BOTH houses of Parliament with the indepandants. You will recall, Wilkie has been quite specicic on that for 15 months now.

    David - please refer to Student Council / Union bio, that been circulating. Her words not mine.

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

  28. So sick of political commentators hurling blame at politicians who are captive to the complicated situation handed to them by the electorate and that includes the SBs of the world who prattle on as though the Coalition could somehow do if differently.

    Gillard has to walk a tricky tight rope but so would Abbott if he had been able to a deal with the Independents.

    There are so many hints of chauvinism the attacks upon Gillard-she must work twice as hard as a man would and still she is the worst of the worst despite Howard sending us into an 2 illegal wars that is still under way. Warmongers always walk free when they are on the winning side.

    by Oscar Jones on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

  29. Today we learnt that Townsville punters lost $86 million on pokies last year. The huge figure, obtained from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, is almost $7 million more than locals lost during 2010. Staggering isn’t it, for a town of 150,000 people?

    by Hugh (Charlie) McColl on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

  30. LIZ42-Labor should hire you as media adviser immediately. Spot on.

    by Oscar Jones on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

  31. SB - “Gillards commitment (written mind you) was that she would negotiate the pokie refirm through BOTH houses of Parliament with the indepandants. You will recall, Wilkie has been quite specicic on that for 15 months now.” That still isn’t an answer to the questions I asked but given the independents don’t want to support it what would you have her do, bribe them silly until they can’t say “no” or seek an alternative that they will accept or just introduce the policy and watch it fail.

    Also if I was to say I would meet you at your RSL for dinner at 8pm and then got unavoidably detined and didn’t make it until 8.30pm would I be a li ar?

    Oscar Jones - Well put.

    Hugh McColl - Unfortunately Townsville is not alone, and generally the poorer the demographic the higher the losses.

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

  32. Agree Geomac, although it appears Wilkie has come back from that hard-line position somewhat with his overtures of continuing discussions with Julia, although that may, of course, be because of the ‘Slipper’ effect.

    Jimmy, you may have a point with the govt’s commitment to the PC recommendations, which talk of a mandatory trial prior to implementation in 2016 (should it prove to be successful), however, the govt is going to have ‘cut through’ with this message to the MSM, as the line that is being run even as of today in the SMH, for example, is that it has ‘reneged’ on Wilkie, and has engaged in no better than a Howard “non-core promise”, as others have posted above. Truss has already excoriated Julia over it and it won’t be hard to see how the battle lines will form over that issue.

    The only other comment I’d make from a policy perspective is that the “voluntary” pre-commitment model hasn’t really worked all that well or at least has been controversial in Nova Scotia, for example, even where it has been found that a large number of addicts have wanted to try and “commit” to that model. In dealing with gambling addicts, though, I think it will have to be mandatory or bust.

    by Karen on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

  33. if they get in the way of her political interests. It was a killer in relation to the carbon pricing package” seems some what contradictory in that her political interests would have been to sat on carbon pricing issue but instead she agreed to pursue it to achieve a minority government despite the damage it did her.

    Not sure you get to argue it both ways.

    Personally I hope that the Government very quickly puts through the $1 cap, gets that agreed and in bed whilst we wait for the outcome of the mandatory pre-commitment trial. Get something that many reasonable and rational people agree on done.

    Let’s keep moving forward guys.

    by Mark from Melbourne on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

  34. Bernard is running a similar but more sophisticated line to Truss, who said…

    “Julia Gillard has betrayed Andrew Wilkie just as she betrayed the Australian people before the last election.”

    It’s just tripe dressed up as political analysis. The government and Wilkie would have supported legislation but it appears are unable to do so because the numbers are not there without the independents.

    Methinks, Mr Keane is hoping for role at Newslimited like his predecessor Christian Kerr. His ramblings are becoming quite similar.

    by joe2 on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm

  35. Karen - I am sure the MSM will take the SB line and run with it but again this is better policy and I will take that over good politics any day of the week.

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm

  36. @ Jimmy

    It was up to Gillard to leverage the independants in the Wilkie deal (carrot and stick).

    I know that is a bad outcome for Australia, but that is what she agreed to, as repeatly said by Wilkie for the last 15 months.

    Gillard was prepare dro do this, but when Slipper changed camps, she was let off.

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

  37. This is disappointing. I believe it was a step in the direction of making it a better country. Still, for all the haters out there, keep in mind that this isn’t a backwards step but just a forwards step not taken.

    IMHO the government has just taken the option of a trial as a way to back out with announcing a full dumping of the policy. I can’t see them having the backbone to take it any further whatever the outcome from the trial. I hope to be proved wrong in 4+ years time.

    by Dolfan on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm

  38. SB comments ‘you’ make are yours unless supported with evidence and links…you insult others intelligence with your consistent accusations and fail to respond time and again when challenged.
    To toss in…”please refer to Student Council / Union bio, that been circulating. Her words not mine.”..means nothing.

    by david on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm

  39. @OSCAR JONES - Thank you. Perhaps you could put in a good word for me. A wage would be great - better than the pension, although I’m grateful for the increases, Kevin and Julia!

    @SB - What happened to the adult concept of communicating, listening to the other person, accepting what’s possible and what’s impossible, and then reaching an ADULT compromise that will obtain POSITIVE outcomes? As opposed to denying reality; absorbing community responses(even those lies told by vested interests)hurling insulting comments at those who oppose you, and engaging in brattish behaviour in the media? I have an aversion to Abbott’s foot stamping behaviour when he doesn’t get his own way. When he puts on his sulky face it reminds me of my kids when they were under school age? Their was an excuse for them - but, he’s supposed to be a grown up!

    The present make up of the Parliament is a reality because 13+ million of us voted for it. It’s childish and churlish to carry on now. You are as much responsible for it as I am. Grow up and live with the reality. In fact, if our system of voting in the House of Reps was just and fair, there’d be more Greens people in Parliament - not just one! One in 6 people voted for the Greens, and yet they only got one Seat? Perhaps that could be your next challenge - fairness in the democratic system of elections!

    Abbott promised Wilke over ONE BILLION dollars to set him up in The Lodge? Have you, along with many others forgotten that little bit of reality. Would he have lived up to that promise? Probably not! He’d plead that he didn’t know the state of the funds blah blah! Like he did over that broken promise re Health Insurance rebate of 2004?

    From what I’ve read and listened to, the $1 poker machines sounds like a good approach, and it would appear the cheapest in the long run. I understand that this was the FIRST proposal put forward by Andrew Wilke - Julia Gillard and her colleagues should’ve done some homework on this proposal before this!

    The Clubs? They don’t want any change. They’re as hooked on the monies as the State Govts are. They need assistance too, via a good ‘psychiatrist’ so to speak! A sense of decency would be good in the interim. They can’t have it both ways. They deny the reality of how they get their profits(40% by problem gamblers) and yet complain that they’ll be ‘rooned’ if these people cease their destructive habit? It doesn’t make sense - it’s illogical and stupid, and too many of their ‘followers’ believe this nonsense - and too many in msm drum up more lies to support them. How can people be so stupid as to believe them?

    by Liz45 on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

  40. Dolfan - “this isn’t a backwards step but just a forwards step not taken.” I thnk this is probably going to be a smaller step forwards, but we should really wait to see what is announced before we get to carried away.

    SB - “I know that is a bad outcome for Australia, but that is what she agreed to, as repeatly said by Wilkie for the last 15 months.” There is that great thinker we all no and love, who cares about doing what is best for the country, who cares about adapting as circumstances change around you, you have to stick to your word. By the way how far back does this go, if I wanted to be an astronaut when I was 5 should I quit my job as an accountant now?

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm

  41. Dolfan - “keep in mind that this isn’t a backwards step but just a forwards step not taken”. True. But it basically guarantees that no forward steps will ever be attempted in the forseeable future. They’ll erect a great big signpost on that particular footpath warning all future politicians not to tread any further for fear of being mauled by the pokie lobby rottweiler.

    by MartyC on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

  42. @ Jimmy

    Then she should come out and say I have renigged on the deal cause of X,Y,Z.

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

  43. SB - “Then she should come out and say I have renigged on the deal cause of X,Y,Z” So the way she did with the Carbon tax then?

    And given an announcement hasn’t been made regarding the change in policy maybe we should wait until that happens before condemning her for not explaining her reasons for the change.

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm

  44. Ms Blake, if you don’t know what a word means, please don’t use it.

    by Hugh (Charlie) McColl on Jan 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

  45. @ Jimmy

    She is waiting until the media assessors guage the reaction, before announcing their slant on it

    As regards to Wannan, I understand that is a safe seat. You should visit some ultra marginals and get a feel for the mood. May come as a shock.

    I use to be in a safe seat. I feel sorry for people in ultra safe seats. Its sleepy hollow. I am sure that is true for both ends of the spectrum.

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm

  46. SB - “She is waiting until the media assessors guage the reaction, before announcing their slant on it” How do you now this, are you secretly working for the ALP? What is stopping Wilkie from making an announcement then?

    As regards to Wannan, I understand that is a safe seat. You should visit some ultra marginals and get a feel for the mood. May come as a shock.” So somehow people are more passionate about politics just because the live in a marginal seat? And I will get a better idea of the negative feeling towards the govt if I go to a seat where more people vote for the ALP?

    Believe me living in an area wherepeople are rusted on 4th generational libs gives you plenty of opportunity to here what is wrong with the ALP, very similar arguments to yours actually lacking fact, illogical and ill informed,

    by Jimmy on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

  47. @ Jimmy

    Shame that you don’t get balance.

    I started out at young and stupid voting Labor, Democrat and Independant. Learnt fast, so I did an about face in 2010.

    Wilkie with his limited resources is shell shocked I am sure, running around trying to get other independant support.

    Doesn’t matter, they have his vote for carbon tax, so he is expendable.

    He interesting to see how he votes on cutting the private health insurance rebate.

    I think Windsor and or Oaksheott are against it, so it may fall flat now, which is why it has not been mentioned for months

    by Suzanne Blake on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm

  48. Re-nigged - are you even allowed to say that these days?

    by Mark from Melbourne on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

  49. Re S.Blake’s use of ‘renigged’ (sic), i suspect her kiwi tendencies, and the gauche flag waving and omniscence don’t help.

    by Liamj on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

  50. @SB - So, you’re also in favour of rich people getting a rebate on their health insurance payments? Next you’ll be whining about pension increases and young women being encouraged to continue with education etc after having a baby?Of course, there’s no mention of irresponsible young? men! Now, why doesn’t that surprise me!

    I’ve never voted for the Conservatives. My arm would fall off if I did! Abbott will do and say anything to get into the Lodge. Why don’t you address that? He’s the greatest fraud in the Fed Parlt - he’s admitted to it! It’s probably on the website at the ABC 7.30? You should take a look or at least read the transcript. But first, you’ll have to remove your rose coloured specs!

    by Liz45 on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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