Michael Pascoe writes:

Premier Dilemma has been beaten by the NSW
club PR and lobby machine, surrendering $400 million in revenue in yet another
back down from a Carr Crash policy.
Unfortunately this particular policy was one that actually benefited people.

The Terror has the story. The tax-free threshold for one-armed
bandit revenue rises from $200,000 to $1 million and the maximum rate to be
paid by the biggest club casinos such as Penrith Leagues is cut from 49.09 per
cent to 39.99 per cent.

The deal is likely to put the club and pub
lobby happily back in bed with the Government it’s long owned after a period of
estrangement that even included a fundraiser for the State Liberals. The club
campaign was built around furphy of the clubs’ charity work – it’s actually not
much. The money would have done more even in this government’s hands.

The announcement coincides with a sharp
attack by Ross Gittens on the Carr regime’s “virtual government” that Dilemma has inherited.

When politicians become obsessed
by perceptions, you end up with virtual government – the appearance of
government, but not the reality. You don’t really care whether problems are
solved, as long as you’re seen to be solving them.

You don’t do what the experts
tell you will work, you do what the punters and their loud-mouth urgers think
will work – all the failed policemen and guilt-expiating parents of kids who
died of drug overdoses. You toughen sentences, put more cops on the beat and
raid the homes of Muslims with bushy beards.

And you go for the showy
solutions. Things that will get you on telly, things you can be photographed
opening. Things that have emotional appeal to the punters. The Government’s chronic problems
with the trains are a direct result of years of preferring the flashy over the
important-but-boring.

The pokie tax back down looks like another
dose of perception over policy – Dilemma had to stop the clubs’ public
campaigning against him and never mind the real cost. So it goes.

Peter Fray

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