The fact that Karl Bitar has transitioned seamlessly from running the Labor Party to become lobbyist-in-chief for James Packer’s gambling operations is a smack in the face for the integrity of the political system.

The most galling aspect of a Labor kingpin becoming a gambling high-flyer is how it further entrenches the cosiness and inter-dependence that exists between government and gaming.

As we pointed out last Friday, Australians lose vastly more — $1300 a year per adult, or about $22 billion a year between all of us — than any other country. That one statistic, on its own, should be enough to put the shivers up any government, let alone one that preaches social justice.

Instead, the nexus between government and gambling today is even stronger, and the annual $22 billion of lost opportunities is now even more secure than ever.

Peter Fray

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