Independent candidate for Denison at the next state election, Andrew Wilkie, will today unveil a giant computerised counter showing the amount of money lost on poker machines in Tasmania since the 2006 state election.

The device is almost two metres long and mounted on the roof of a commercial van. It’s programmed to tick over at the rate of about $7 a second and will reach $856 million on 20 March 2010 – the expected date of the next state election. The counter will be used extensively between now and polling day.

‘The counter is a shocking reminder of the enormous amount of money being lost on poker machines every day in Tasmania,’ Andrew Wilkie said. ‘Seeing it tick over is every bit as mind-numbing and mesmerising as the toxic machines it warns of.’

“Almost $7 a second, $400 a minute, $24000 an hour, over half a million dollars a day and more than $200 million a year. Nearly $1 billion over the four years of this government. All of it lost and most of it from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Tasmania. It’s outrageous and the Government’s virtual inaction on the issue shows that it doesn’t care about the welfare of the tens of thousands of Tasmanians affected.”

“There’s obviously an urgent need for our politicians to grow a heart and develop some leadership. They must move immediately to reduce the number of poker machines in vulnerable areas like Moonah and Glenorchy. Eventually they must abolish them altogether.”

‘No political party is beyond fault in this matter – Labor, Liberal and Greens all support the continued operation of poker machines in Tasmania. I am the only candidate committed to the eventual abolition of all poker machines in the state.’

The event will occur at 10.00 am today – Friday 14 August – on the short road leading in to Wrest Point Casino from Sandy Bay Road in Sandy Bay. Andrew Wilkie would be happy to accommodate media requests for interviews at other times.