Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

Will the ALP Dance to Lennon and Old’s Pokies Play List?

*Pic: Image of Paul Lennon from HERE

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Pic: of Steve Old

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*Pic: From ‘Team Mulawa’ here: “Greg Farrell Jr, “Mr. Mulawa”: Greg is by nature very hands-on – activity done translates into learning and understanding – and he still applies this essential quality to the horses with ambitious zeal and earnest dedication. Greg is a natural horseman – his innate affection for and confident ease with horses is readily apparent in his daily interaction with the horses at every level. Although Greg’s primary vocational responsibility has always been Managing Director of Federal Group (the highly successful and widely respected Australian owned family business and the world’s second oldest hotel group), he always finds quality time for the horses. He remains integrally involved with all the handling and training of the Mulawa Arabians, from early breaking through the professional turn out of top level show ring performers in hand. (Pictured with ADVENT) “

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Greg Farrell, Federal Group MD

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*Pic: The skilful punter … David Walsh

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The book by James Boyce …

First published August 16

Next month the parliamentary select committee on gaming will make its recommendations. The ALP will then decide the poker machine policy it will take to the next election.

Because the Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, has reiterated the Government’s commitment that all existing venues can keep their pokies whatever the Committee recommends, it is the Labor Party that will decide the future of poker machines in Tasmania.

If they break their fifty-year alliance with Federal Hotels and make an electorally popular decision to put the interests of small business and disadvantaged people before the profits of the party’s patrons, the current contract could be the last. All that needs to happen is for a ministerial letter to be sent to Greg Farrell of the Federal Group in 2018 giving notice that the company’s contract won’t be renewed, and all poker machines will have to be out of pubs and clubs by 2023.

There is no certainty what the Select Committee will recommend, not least because two of the so-called independents sitting on it, Robert Armstrong and Tania Rattray, are the only two members of the Committee who have refused to disclose the donations they have received from the Federal Group. However, the Chair, Mike Gaffney, has integrity, and with the ALP and the Greens could yet deliver a report recommending a rollback of the pokies to the casinos.

It is not surprising given the current state of play that the pokies industry is focussing its lobbying efforts on the ALP. It is perhaps a sign of how out of touch they are with the genuine changes that have occurred in Tasmania over the last decade, that the two men they have chosen to represent them, Paul Lennon and Steve Old, embody Labor’s discredited past.

I first experienced the depth of Paul Lennon’s support for Federal Hotels during the Bacon Government when, as Manager of Social Action Research Centre at Anglicare, I tried to arrange meetings with the Gaming Minister to discuss his decision to remove all bet limits on Tasmanian poker machines six months after coming to office; correct his public statements that this was required under the poker machine contract; question his refusal to release research funds from the community support levy set aside under legislation for just this purpose, and push the need to conduct the promised evaluation of the unmonitored code of industry practice that the Minister regularly declared to be the best in the nation.

Both the Minister (Lennon) and the Premier (Bacon) consistently proved to be too busy for a meeting, and one of the ministerial minders informing me of this was Steve Old who took it on himself to dismiss the importance of the issues we were raising.

Paul Lennon had already proved to be a good friend of the Farrell family (who fully own Federal Hotels) by this time. During the Bacon government, many people in the Labor Party used to complain that Lennon had been inconsistent on pokies – he had opposed them in opposition and supported them in government. In fact, he has been remarkably consistent on this issue for nearly three decades. Lennon has always supported the position of Federal Hotels. As the Opposition Gaming Spokesman in 1992-3, he opposed the rollout of the pokies into hotels but supported the introduction of high intensity, high-addiction machines into the casinos (the only pokies then allowed in the casino had to simulate casino games – that is they required player choice and have to be actually played. Such machines are less addictive and thus less profitable). What is often forgotten is that Lennon’s position was also the position of Federal Hotels, who did not want pub pokies to disrupt their gambling monopoly.

So widespread was the opposition (including from within the Liberal Party itself) to the Groom Government’s pokies legislation that they seemed to have little chance of getting their Bill through parliament in the late winter of 1993. But then the Government suddenly abandoned its policy of an open tender process (the whole point of single licence model was that it could be out to tender and maximise the government return) and just handed over the single licence to Federal for free. The tax rate set was almost the same as that recommended by Federal Hotels in their submission to the Legislative Council earlier that year.

So rapid was the capitulation to Federal Hotels that Paul Lennon was caught flat-footed and his parliamentary comments focussed on the impact of the local football competition should one club get pokies and another not.

Despite taunts and jibes from the government benches, the man who had pushed how much harm would be caused by pokies coming into pubs, now refused to condemn the deal.

The ALP might not have formally abandoned its former opposition to pokies but in practice it did so. The Legislative Council also caved in with disturbing ease once Federal Hotels changed sides, and the strangely named Gaming ‘Control’ Act that had been facing defeat now passed relatively easily through parliament. Questions about the conflicts of interest of MPs who proved so ready to abandon the central recommendations of their own Select Committee Report were raised in parliament and remain unanswered to this day.

Lennon remained the staunch ally of Federal Hotels throughout his premiership. In May 2004, he even crossed a union picket line at the Farrell-owned Country Club to show where his loyalties lay. As the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union state secretary, David O’Byrne, observed to BRW, ‘it was hard to explain to … members why a Labor premier was staying there.’

Lennon dismissed those who pointed out that the new 2003 poker machine contract (that had been negotiated in secret and again handed to the Farrells for free), meant that hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds had been transferred from the government to one of Australia’s richest families.

This was money that could have been spent in under-funded and overstretched health, education and community services. Lennon pointed to the company’s supposed $80 million dollar investment in Tasmanian tourism as a community return, but in reality the company’s investment amounted to purchasing 12 of the top 23 poker machine hotels in the state, the 9/11 bottleshop chain and some already established and successful tourism businesses.

One of his last acts as premier before being forced to resign in 2008 was to defend the company from criticism that it had not delivered on the 180 jobs Mr Farrell had promised to parliament would be provided by the one new development he had promised should the new 2003 pokies contract be passed unamended. The revised employment figure for the Coles Bay hotel with convention facilities required to be built by the terms of the poker machine contract was 38.

Meanwhile, Steve Old had by this time gone to work for the Australian Hotels Association. This body already had a solid record selling out its members in the interests of its single biggest donor.

In December 1993, the independent MLC, Peter Schulze, was mystified as to why the Australian Hotels Association was not seeking to lobby Legislative Councillors given the reduced returns available to hotels set out in the legislation compared with what had been recommended by the Council’s Select Committee earlier that year: “I cannot understand why the clubs and hotels have not sought to have a session with the Legislative Council. I cannot understand why they have not sought to brief us on this matter, to put their points of view, because … their share in this affair is much lower than our Committee recommended.”

There seems no rational reason why the peak body representing hotels supported having a ‘middle man’ that took the lion’s share of profits. Even the right of Federal Hotels to decide which venues would receive poker machines and which would be denied them was never a matter of public concern to the AHA. The peak body never publicly questioned the right of Federal Hotels to buy hotels despite the unfair competitive advantage this conferred to the company. All this is in was in stark contrast to Victoria where in 2003 lobbying from the AHA led to the two licence holders being banned from owning pokie venues and losing their right to decide which would receive machines. The AHA in Victoria were also strong supporters of the move by the Victorian Government to remove the ‘middle men’ from the industry altogether from 2012 in favour of licencing venues directly.

There is no doubt that many hotel owners were unhappy with the power and the profits afforded to Federal Hotels by the monopoly licence. The former Labor Minister, Steve Kons admitted that he discussed with ‘hoteliers around the place’ the fact that Federal Hotels had ‘the ability to exclude people from the market by buying hotels in certain areas. Wynyard was one in my electorate where they buy the hotel and other venues completely miss out and they can do that throughout the state.’

The Chair of the Tasmanian Gaming Commission, Don Challen, testified to a parliamentary committee that during the 2003 negotiations he had tried ‘to improve the deal for the venues. Remember I was the Chairman of the Gaming Commission at the time and I had been getting lots of complaints from the venues about the bad deal in the 1993 deed, so we wanted to improve that.’ The complaints were frequent enough for Challen to describe them as ‘aggravation’.

The only concession Challen was able to achieve was the removal of the relatively small fee charged to the hotels to administer the central poker machine network. There was no increase in the high percentage of losses going to the venue; no reduction in the rent charged to the hotels to recoup the purchase and maintenance cost of the machines; and no qualification to the freedom of Federal Hotels to allocate and remove poker machines without reason or redress.

Challen achieved so little not because he did not understand the issues but because he had so little negotiating power. If the AHA had been representing the interests of its members during the previous decade by publicly advocating for them, the plight of the pubs would have been a political and PR problem that both the Government and Federal Hotels would have found it difficult to ignore.

The interests of hotels without poker machines, that formed the large majority of the AHA membership, also lacked public representation. As Peter Gutwein noted in parliament on 29 May 2003, ‘anecdotal evidence from the industry is that the hotels without poker machines are suffering a major loss of business, a profound loss of business. Many of them are going to the wall and this is actually crucifying not only their businesses but also the social activities and the community that was built around them.’

At the very least, a peak body purporting to represent its members would have asserted its right to be part of poker machine contract negotiations. The AHA was locked out of the secret deal-making in 2003 as comprehensively as community groups. However, unlike community organisations, the AHA never publicly complained about this. What did the AHA think about Greg Farrell’s assertion that ‘There are many stakeholders involved in this and our view is that negotiations of a commercially sensitive nature should be conducted entirely privately’ as consulting ‘prior to having a signed agreement … is tantamount to causing anxiety to … other parties, which would be entirely unacceptable’? Did the AHA agree that its members should be protected from ‘anxiety’ by having everything decided before they got a say?

The AHA seemed to actually support its exclusion from the contract negotiations. Its submission to the subsequent parliamentary inquiry expressed no concerns with the process or the outcome, and argued that it would be a ‘dangerous precedent’ if ‘any Government deal had to be subjected to scrutiny and possible amendment by Parliament’.

The AHA was even opposing amendments that its own members would directly benefit from!

Greg Farrell testified to the Public Accounts Committee in July 2003 that he believed that the hotels were satisfied with the status quo because the AHA would have made ‘substantial representations’ to the company if they were not. He observed that ‘In all reality, over all the years I have been involved in this business, I would have to say this is not the case.’ The Premier also understood the peak body’s position, assuring Parliament that he believed that the AHA ‘are not greatly concerned about the agreement that has been entered into’.

The general manager of the AHA at this time was Daniel Hanna who went on to work for the Tourism Industry Council before taking his current position as the Corporate Affairs Manager at Federal Hotels. This career path, from running the AHA to becoming a senior manager within Federal Hotels, was first followed by Paul Crossin, the man in charge of the peak body when the 1993 pokies contract was pushed through parliament.

The man who replaced Hanna as the CEO of the AHA, Steve Old, defended the poker machine contract with even more extravagant vigour after he commenced work in 2007.

Old suggested that employment across the whole hospitality industry was threatened by pokies reform. In response to the Green’s election policy to gradually phase out poker machines, Old asserted during the 2010 campaign that ‘More than 23000 Tasmanians are employed in the hospitality sector and understandably they are extremely concerned for their livelihoods with such harmful policies being touted by the Greens.’

After Premier Giddings showed signs that she might support a national reform agenda he proclaimed that ‘If she wants to have a war as the new Premier, she’s got one… Does she want 300 pubs and clubs in the state having signs up slamming her?’ At the time about 90 hotels and 10 clubs had poker machines.

The AHA is now the Tasmanian Hospitality Association and purports to represent the interest of 2000 restaurants, pubs and clubs. Nevertheless, the THA still shows no signs of being interested in the findings of the Social Economic and Impact Study concerning the harm being done to the hospitality sector by current poker machine policy. Nor did it express any public concern about its exclusion from the negotiations for a pokies contract extension that were conducted directly with Federal Hotels during the winter of 2015.

It was only in the wake of the public controversy that followed the intervention by David Walsh in September 2015 that the organisation finally acknowledged that some hotels want ‘to get rid of the middle man’ and Old publicly committed the THA to seeking ‘a better deal’ for its members even though he also remains ‘more than comfortable’ with Federals monopoly.

The revised THA policy was not made in the interests of members but was a necessary concession to the few large chains, like the Dixon Group, who dominate the hotel poker machine market. The vast majority of hotels and all other hospitality businesses continue to lack any representation on this issue.

The 2008 Social and Economic Impact Study found that average Employment in Tasmanian hotels fell by 14% in each of the three years after pokies came in, compared to the three years before (despite an economic recovery at this time).

The researchers found that the reason for this was that self-service poker machines do not employ many people and take expenditure from businesses that do. For every million dollars lost on a poker machine, three people were employed. For every million dollars spent on food services, twenty people got a job. The 200 million dollars of diverted expenditure cost jobs and hit hospitality businesses hard. For every dollar spent on a poker machine, the study found that sixty five cents was lost to businesses in tourism, hospitality and culture.

The abject failure of the AHA/THA to represent the interests of its members since 1993 means it has no credibility in public debate on poker machines.

The fact is that nearly three quarters of hotels will directly and substantially benefit from a pokies rollback to the casinos. I believe that many of these hoteliers, and other businesses in the wider hospitality sector, will have their say as soon as there is a realistic political chance of change. Many people in the hospitality industry are aware that Steve Old is no more independent on this issue than the registered lobbyist who is now being paid by Federal Hotels to represent its interests to MPs – Paul Lennon.

The premier, Will Hodgman, has said he has not met with Lennon. This is not surprising as the main job of this old friend of the Farrells is to keep his own party in line.

Lennon and Old are pushing for Labor to return to its past and continue to provide special deals for corporate mates without regard to the public good. After two Productivity Commission Inquiries, three Social and Economic Studies, and countless research reports, the evidence is in – pokies do more social and economic harm than good.

The polls are clear that most Tasmanians also know that this is true. If democracy is functioning as it should, there can be only one outcome. The responsibility of party members, candidates and supporters is clear – the once in a generation opportunity to end this state’s disastrous twenty-year experiment in pokie proliferation must be seized.
Should the ALP choose to dance to the sad play list of Lennon and Old, the party will demonstrate that despite the change in personnel, when it comes to dealing with the vested interests of corporate mates, nothing of substance has changed. By contrast, no policy would more powerfully symbolise a return to true Labor values then to decide to send an ‘it’s over’ letter to Mr Farrell, and go to the election with a message of transforming hope to the people of Tasmania.

*James Boyce’s latest book is Losing Streak: How Tasmania was Gamed by the Gambling Industry. Parts of this article are sourced from Losing Streak and references for quotes can be found in the book.

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times …

James Boyce: The massive public subsidy of a private family-owned firm …

• Stephen Menadue in Comments: … As an ex addict of nearly 3 and a half decades of addiction to the pokies, I can with all authority state that these machines eroded all the bedrocks in my life and helped me do many terms in jail because I stole to feed the machines placed there by someone who knew that there was someone like me who would do whatever I could to keep feeding the machines.The Licencees will say that they definitely don’t want to encourage criminal activities by the placement of their machines but will look the other way as a shitload of money is laundered via their gaming ‘lounges’ …

• Cataraqui in Comments: … Stephen has the courage to anecdote his failures and his remedies and his regrets. Well done Stephen, give this man a medal for his public courage … and take the medals off the monsters who get them for their community servitude all wrapped up in crackling PR. Multiply the Stephens and the subject of this anecdote by the thousands. See them in the night-lights and bright hours of the day emerging from the mouth of the monster, in wheel-chairs and walking frames, young mums in momentary escape from domestic drudgery, the suddenly-single from partner-loss and on and on we can anecdote the victims of Hells’ singing angels …

Mercury: State Government pooh-poohs pre-poll pokies deal with Federal and Tasmanian Hospitality Association … “Can you confirm that Federal Hotels and the Tasmanian Hospitality Association have struck a deal to try to subvert proper parliamentary process?” Ms Dawkins said. “Will you now rule out locking in an arrangement with Federal Hotels and the THA before the next state election?” Mr Hodgman rejected suggestions of a deal. “I do understand a submission will be made with respect to the future of gaming activity, and it’s part of the process,” Mr Hodgman said. “It is a matter for the THA and Federal Hotels as to what they do but I reject any suggestion…that implies a motive or anything inappropriate by this government” …

Andrew Wilkie: Government must not accept Federal Hotels grubby deal

Mercury, Pat Caplice: Talking Point: Cheap pokies deal won’t cut the mustard

• James Boyce in Comments: … And may the ALP stare down the bullies and reject Lennon and Old’s deal which only redistributes some of the super pokie profits of the Federal Group to the few large hotel chains that own almost all the rest of the pokie hotels. In the first drafts of my book, I included Steve Old’s reply to stories of suffering made at a parliamentary hearing: ‘Don’t play the heartstrings with me mate’, but decided to leave the comment out because it might be too upsetting. But I think now, with today’s concerted push to lock in misery, that his words should be read and remembered by MPs next time the THA boss knocks at their door. His comments got national media attention but were never retracted or apologised for …

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Stephen Menadue

    August 22, 2017 at 2:45 am

    The Farrells know that these machines are designed to influence people to stay and spend all their money. They are seriously complicit in taking advantage of the vulnerable for financial gain – and year after year after year etc!!!
    To me, it seems that this could be the basis of a huge action. I am deficient in much of an understanding of the law but it definitely feels like the ‘Vibe’ of the thing.

    ???

  2. mike seabrook

    August 22, 2017 at 2:18 am

    #34

    the issue is is tassie to remain a mendicant begging state and bludge off the mainlanders gst and other funding with the threat that if the loot is not handed over they can expect 5 or so lambies or harradines in the federal senate

    or is tassie to look to its advantages and attempt to look after itself and
    1. recommence construction of the gordon-below-franklin hydro scheme and let there be no talk of repayment of the est. $500 million compensation paid

    2. tackle all the rigidities and shonky practices which make the cost of transiting the tassie and melbourne ports and bass strait amongst the highest in the world

    3. did people notice the cadburies announcement from the cadburys spokesperson oozing empathy – do not forget that there was a mention that costs for cadburies in tassie are est. 30% higher than their other world wide factories ( and the bean counters controlling the investment cash are not bluffing – the cadbury dunedin nz factory is shutting).

    4. look at the massive electricity subsidies and special deals to the hobart zinc works and the bell bay aluminium smelter – the pollies cronies look very effective.

  3. TGC

    August 22, 2017 at 12:41 am

    The observations made at #34 are based on some interviews by current State Labor members in response to news items about the matters in #34.
    From the comments these Labor folk make it is reasonable to draw the conclusions at #34,
    Now- will these things be ‘core’ policy announcements ‘at the appropriate time’?
    Quite possibly- securing /retaining government will be tight and the Labor Party will stretch itself to gain the advantage- it has to be prepared to make ‘courageous’ commitments or it will fall short.

  4. Stephen Menadue

    August 21, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Does anyone want to help in a possible court action against the Farrells? I know that it’s a somewhat difficult or probably even very difficult thing to do but i cannot rid myself of the kernel of absolute truth that someone(or an entity) is deliberately inflicting harm on the communities they have ensconsed themself in. Essentially, the addict is the middleman between the Farrells and the addicts’ own families. The Farrells have stolen from the people who never go near a machine.

  5. Cataraqui

    August 20, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    #34. The Labor Party had a chance to speak out against Salmon farms infesting the Tasmanian coastline but did not. The ALP is a jobs-based Party. Beccy will simply have to put aside her personal abhorrence of fish-farm invasion of pristine waters and go with the ‘jobs,jobs,jobs mantra to appease the Bogan constituency in all electorates. Simple political survival.#35 has got it right. “Non core”.If independents run in all electorates under a ‘no-pokies-no-fish-farms’ banner it will give voters opposed to both an option and might make a difference.

  6. Stephen Menadue

    August 20, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Rebecca White,
    Are you going to get rid of the pokies in Tasmania?

  7. Simon Warriner

    August 20, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    re 34, With all political parties it is not the promises made to the voters that really matter, they are, to quote John Winstone Howard, “non core”. Only an idiot would believe those promises, based on past performance.

    It is the promises our political party representatives make to their donors that are “core” and will get delivered on.

    Want to change that? Vote independent.

  8. TGC

    August 20, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    It is almost certain that- in order to ensure becoming the next State Government the ALP in Tasmania will make a pre-election committment to phase out the majority of gambling during the next term of Parliament.- As well as closing down all salmon farms and preventing any new fish farms from starting up in Tasmanian waters.
    IIt will also promise to significantly increase spending on schools and hospitals and it will pledge that all emergency services receive whatever fundng they request.

  9. TV Resident

    August 20, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    While politicians and others are on the payroll of big businesses…nothing will change. While we have the political deviousness of the current politicians in both state and federal politics we will never have an ICAC either in this state or nationally. Too many dodgy people and not enough cells.

  10. John Biggs

    August 20, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    James Boyce’s article in today’s Mercury very clearly states the unbelievable: that the the proposed arrangements by Olds and Lennon are even WORSE than the present situation. Gutwein despite his statements about nothing before the election is clearly also behing the proposals that would grant dozens more licences to the big players and compensate poor struggling Farrells with even more tax cuts — already the lowest in Australia. And Farrell says Tasmania has the lowest problem gambling in the country, which is not what evidence says.

    Labor must defy the worst Labor expremier we have had and do what James recommends: pokies out of all pubs and clubs and we could be up to $91 million better off all round. It is so clear what needs to be done. Why do these devious selfish bastards so blatantly fly in the face of logic and morality? Unfortunately it looks like Rebecca White will be unable to rein in the reactionaries in her party.

  11. Stephen Menadue

    August 20, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Pat C,
    I think it might have been longer than that if you’re talking about a Put People before Pokies meeting with Helen B and others.

  12. William Boeder

    August 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Good question mike seabrook, he had his shifty fingers in every plotted manoeuvre and was always there in the background of those matters that went down in this State for many a number of years.
    What has me tossed is how can a beer guzzling head kicker be held up and supported by so many high placed persons to reign as this State’s Premier.

  13. Pat Caplice

    August 20, 2017 at 10:58 am

    It is another Menadue then. And 4 years rather than 2
    Pat

  14. Stephen Menadue

    August 20, 2017 at 4:22 am

    You’ve made a mistake there Pat. You have me confused with someone else.

  15. mike seabrook

    August 20, 2017 at 3:11 am

    what does don challen have to say these days – any apologies to the tasmanian people

  16. William Boeder

    August 20, 2017 at 12:10 am

    #24. Stephen I can find no fault in your comment as you describe Tasmania’s pokies for what they actually are.
    Tasmania could do with a lot more Menadue like-minded persons and James Boyce persons to propel their opinions into prominent public notice.
    The same can be said for many of the solid irrefutable opinions contained in and among the comments by those worthy others.

    A point of interest is how in blazes can Armstrong lend any credence to this pokies committee, the man has a history of creating train-wrecks trailing back for many long years.
    This man should be removed from the Legislative Council.
    Can any person recall any benefits to Tasmania and its people that have flowed from the hands of this man.
    How this State can bear so many streptococci in positions of influence and or high authority is a question never raised.

  17. Pat Caplice

    August 20, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Stephen Menadue. We met in a room above the New Sydney Hotel just over 2 years ago. You were angry, and brave, and inspiring.

    My anti-Pokies fight is for decency, for you, for the many deliberately harmed for base profit.

    With respect.
    Pat Caplice

  18. Stephen Menadue

    August 19, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Normally i would say let’s hope that Labor DOES bring about a change. A lot of people will be hoping they do and a lot of people will be quite happy to hear of some sort of promise. A lot of people will be content if they(Labor)PROMISE to bring about reform. However, make no mistake people, reform CANNOT solve this problem. No $1 maximum bet can work. No ‘plain packaging’ can work. No self-exclusion can work. No pre-committment can work. No removal of atm’s can work(the licencees wouldn’t do it anyway).No reduction in numbers of machines or redistribution of those machines or increasing the numbers of licencees or any other proposed reforms can work. The only thing that is guaranteed to work is abolition.
    I used to go along with the idea of reformation until i really took it into my heart the quote on the top of the home page of Tassie Times. Anything less than abolition will only defer the inevitable–destruction of human values.
    Others may use economic reasons for dealing with this solution and those reasons may seem valid but the truth is that if we want to see an end to all this heartache, economic reasons have absolutely no place in the reasoning.
    Do we not give reasons of love and care and responsibility and helping improve people’s lives as reasons and motives(and indeed,actions)for bringing about true change in so many other issues?
    One of the filthiest aspects of this whole business is that when they(egm’s)are finally removed, the Farrells will just disappear having gorged themselves at our expense:the party politicians will find another red herring to distract us from their ineptitude and the licensees will find other ways to make money and we will probably, most likely, never get an apology BUT the menace will be gone. That will be enough to cheer over but whilst celebrating we must never forget how all those involved fucked us over.

  19. Pat Caplice

    August 19, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    (2 of 2 comments)

    Boyce is absolutely correct in his summation of the committees make up. Armstrong and Rattray refused to answer any of the mercury’s questions about their relationship with Federal. The warm handshake and “hello Bob” from Farrell at his first committee appearance spoke volumes as do the Dorothy Dix nature of his questions. Articulate beyond belief. Armstrong has a long relationship with Farrells boy Lennon through forestry in the Huon.

    Labo, through its committee member Scott Bacon, has heard all the evidence. It is overwhelmingly against Pokies and Labor MUST base its policy on that evidence rather than any recommendations a skewed committee may produce.

    Boyce is correct in commenting that only Gaffney is independent. Rattray and Armstrong haven’t declared their relationship with Federal. The Greens Dawkins has a stated position. Sarah Courtney will be tied to the Libs position. Scott Bacon declared in Parliament last Thursday that Labor will base their policy on the evidence, and only take into account any recommendations.

    The heat is on Labor to prove their generational change. Can they walk away from their sordid past and be decent? Who knows as yet, but they have all read Losing Streak and, in person, their shame is palpable.

    Pat Caplice
    (and don’t forget to support on Facebook)
    Rein in The Pokies

  20. Pat Caplice

    August 19, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    James Boyce has an unsurpassed depth on knowledge of gambling and Pokies in Tassie and the affects they have had on the body politic.

    Those, like Steve Old, who would say”‘Don’t play the heartstrings with me mate” should refer to comments made by Peter Hoult, a respected career state public servant, to the Pokies committee two weeks ago.

    “Up until February last year I was chair of the Liquor and Gaming Commission for a period of eight years. Prior to that I held positions including secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and secretary and deputy secretary of the Department of Justice; I was also director of Corrective Services for a period of three years.”

    “Ms RATTRAY – Thank you. In regard to pokie machines in the community, is it your view they should only belong in casinos, as they were initially? You don’t have to answer that.

    Mr HOULT – I am a private citizen; I can say whatever I want.
    I was there in 1993 when Pembroke introduced the legislation for this into the upper House. I was in the Department of Health, working as a senior policy advisor seconded to write up the stuff for this.

    Mr GAFFNEY – Do mean Peter Mckay?

    Mrs RATTRAY – He’s the most famous member for Pembroke.

    Mr HOULT – Sorry, for my generation Pembroke is – sorry, I didn’t mean to insult the current member for Pembroke.

    That was done in the depths of Tasmania’s worst economic circumstances since the Great Depression. The government was scrabbling for revenue.

    There was some silliness about people going to the mainland to spend their money because they wanted to gamble on the pokies, which is just rubbish. It always was.

    The only reason it happened was as a source of revenue for government at a time when it was in dire straits, and had declining revenues. If that bill were brought forward today, it would be laughed out. No government would ever bring it forward today.

    If you start from that point, I think it is unfortunate that EGMs exist in Tasmania. The benefits – and let’s not just talk financial and economic benefits – of EGMs largely fall to the people who own them and not to the Tasmanian community.

    I think the tax revenues raised are actually non-events. We are talking about total gaming revenues of $85 million a year – I suppose you are more up to date than I am – in times of a $5 billion-a-year overall budget for the state. It is within Treasury’s daily estimate range of getting it right or wrong.

    I think if we went back in history and knew what we know now, we would not do it.”

    They were introduce when the state was broke and struggling to pay bills as they fell due. Thats not the case now.

    “Mr HOULT – No, I do not think they should be in the community. My personal opinion is no, I do not. I think that when you look at the statistics of who gambles, a very large proportion of the losses come from, the very small number of people who actually use these machines a lot of the time. From memory, Productivity Commission numbers show that only about 4 per cent of Australians touch a pokie more than once a week.

    That is where we have addicts slide because that is what addicts do. Suddenly it’s the 1 in 2 per cent of people who are problem gamblers who are harmed, which is taken from the gross population figures, not from the people who actually use the machines. It goes from 1 in 2 per cent of people who are harmed by them to regular users being harmed in the order of 20 to 40 per cent of the people.

    For people who use the machines on a regular basis, they are highly dangerous things. There is no question about that. That is just the numbers. Forty per cent of the income from these machines comes from people who are at-risk or problem gamblers.

    I do not know any other industry of any kind ever where 40 per cent of the revenues would be allowed to be taken from people who are being significantly harmed by the product of that industry. If Ford produced cars that damaged 40 per cent of the people who drove them once a week – it is just a very strange concept to me.”

    I disagree only with Hoults comment that 40% of the losses come the 30% of addicted and at risk players, my research indicates it is 60%.

    All of his evidence is worth reading.

    http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/ctee/Joint/Transcripts/FGM/fgm.evi.170811.Transcript.pdf

    (1 of 2 comments)

  21. mike seabrook

    August 19, 2017 at 6:07 am

    they are a pack of thieves preying on the gullible and less educated , and who are suckers for their plays, and so many lives are diminished

    all the psychological research has been done

    as a minimum there should be full disclosure of the odds on the machines at point of sale which the “punters” should read before the button is pushed.

    the pollies and their cronies overreach on this.

  22. O'Brien

    August 19, 2017 at 3:40 am

    “The taste for gambling is a kind of feeble mindedness, maybe even an insanity. It can be justified only by resort to the most preposterous sophistry.” (H L Mencken)

    Let’s face it the Farrells, their ilk, cronies, sycophants, their bought and paid for politicians, profit from … misery. … … (Our elected representatives) are thieves, it really is that simple. Although these thieves call themselves “elected representatives” or “sound businessmen”. They …. run the entire show, we are fools to expect anything else. Jarvis Cocker put it better than I ever could…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRGGbyZzuTg

    (edited)

  23. William Boeder

    August 18, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    There is nothing of governance in this State.
    The Justice system, The Supreme Court system favours the State GBE’s and government departments, the State’s police are being asked or told to target motorists more so than preventing crime or even detecting crime as the latter 2 pursuits do not generate any income for this State’s parliamentary kindergarten.
    As for oversight regarding political donations, inevitably the hierarchy of this woefully governed lone-star State will fortuitously have mates employed in the State’s electoral office.
    The department of Justice is without a law-skilled responsible person holding the appointment of Attorney General, I’m guessing that Mathew Groom is the stand in for the time being.
    In fact a scan of the page where one can read who has which portfolios is interesting, Mathew Groom the son of a former hierarchical establishment family, he actually holds the highest “nominated” authoritative appointments in Tasmania.

    I am unable to say how heartening this may be but in my opinion this means little toward effective governance of any kind.
    That same page carries another photo of a person who claims himself the minister for deforestation once again bearing a very odd shaped or contorted smile, perhaps he has borrowed a well used presumably now a second-hand or pre-loved smile, from some other like-minded person?
    A far cry from the former Labor party minister for deforestation, Bryan “the giggler” Green.
    Moving on:
    The legal profession is now a brotherhood or alternatively a mass of individuals that join together so to be in league with one and the other, even the State’s governor by the nature of being appointed by the political critters in our State, that role of Governor in itself is essentially an apolitical appointment.
    As close as one can determine there are no gambling controls or a regulatory entity set in place (Peter Gutwein is not a sufficiently knowledgeable nor responsible individual to decide upon matters such as gaming machine controls) therefore this multi-million dollar money raking system must regulate its own very self.
    Though perhaps it may be possible to squeeze such a role under the hat of the minister for racing, Jeremy Rockliff, otherwise this may very well have to be an external to Tasmania appointed regulator.
    Why not Greg Farrell? Hmm’ I wonder.
    Now Greg Farrell is one particular person that well knows it all and has a deep insight into the gaming shambles in our State.

  24. Mark Temby

    August 18, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    It’s very sad but unsurprising that gambling retains such a hold over pubs, politicians and the public. Everyone is aware of the facts where lower socio-economic suburbs are targeted. The statistical facts are mirrored in alcohol consumption and nicotine usage.

    Societal problems like unemployment, poverty, housing and health are also reflected. Health problems are not just the end products of heart disease and cancers but the pathways are littered with domestic violence, child abuse, drug addictions and depression. This facts are also known by all and sundry.

    There is much recurring policy debate on the above with regards to indigenous communities across Australia with proposals to limit spending through welfare debit cards. This is why such policies are racist. Where a policy only addresses one sector in society where another sector demonstrates identical behaviours but remains exempt then we have a racist policy.

    There are clear solutions and options but our political class lacks leadership and courage. Banning all political donations might focus the political and business minds on a clearer future.

  25. Chris

    August 18, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Now we hear that there WILL BE a Gutwhinger solution to the ownership of machines in 12 Farrell pubs, give all pubs 1/2 of the revenue and lessen the burden on ya mates in the Thermos give them a tax break to give them trickle down yer leg economics.
    Herrbetytz will be proud, let em eat dry bread.
    Robbing Peter To Pay Farrell?

  26. J B Nimble

    August 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Re # 15, I agree, do not vote for a party politician, If only we could get decent independents to run in the next state election.

    J B Nimble.

  27. Simon Warriner

    August 17, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    As clear a case of conflicted interests by political parties as anyone will ever see.

    And the money laundering thing, just goes to show what law enforcement is really about, doesn’t it.

    If you want decent government, do not vote for a party politician.

  28. TV Resident

    August 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    It is my long held opinion that wherever there is a lot of $$$$$$s there will be corruption. The gambling industry is no different. Thuggo and his mates listed in the above article could easily be members of some ‘underworld’ for all we know. What we do know is that $$$$$s rule politics and criminals.

  29. james boyce

    August 17, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks everyone for adding to this article, and especially you Stephen for giving us the real story – what this whole issue is ultimately about. The veteran gambling researcher, Professor Dickerson of Sydney University, who did the first problem gambling surveys here in the early 1990s, has concluded – if people play poker machines exactly as they are intended to be played, then fifty per cent of players will develop a problem. The first Social and Economic Impact Study in Tasmania in 2008 found that $85 million was lost by addicts on poker machines, compared with $13 million by problem gamblers on all other forms of gambling combined. The machines are designed to be addictive. Addicts are their core business. The Federal Group know how much of their profits are generated by problem gamblers because they collect data too – for their reward program – only they respond by rewarding more play not reducing it. This data could be revealed or cited with names removed, but of course it is always kept very secret. As you say Stephen, after countless research studies, the truth is known by everyone who considers the evidence – this is not a problem with individual causes (as the industry says) but a failure of public policy. A terrible and ethically indefensible failure and with so much evidence now in and so many stories courageously told, the fact that Peter Gutwein has still guaranteed all existing venues can keep their pokies whatever the parliamentary committee recommends, is a disgrace. I hope ordinary Liberal members rise up in revolt. And may the ALP stare down the bullies and reject Lennon and Old’s deal which only redistributes some of the super pokie profits of the Federal Group to the few large hotel chains that own almost all the rest of the pokie hotels. In the first drafts of my book, I included Steve Old’s reply to stories of suffering made at a parliamentary hearing: ‘Don’t play the heartstrings with me mate’, but decided to leave the comment out because it might be too upsetting. But I think now, with today’s concerted push to lock in misery, that his words should be read and remembered by MPs next time the THA boss knocks at their door. His comments got national media attention but were never retracted or apologised for http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2010/s3029883.htm

  30. philll Parsons

    August 17, 2017 at 11:57 am

    The most important condemning post is #5 if it is true. making black money white is one of the props for crime.

  31. William Boeder

    August 17, 2017 at 11:14 am

    #9.Thank you Simon for adding your views on this matter, after all you have been observing this character for the past 20 or more years.
    Most of the comments to this article matter are all indicative of the unsuitability of this untrained suit wearing Rottweiler that has no other interest than to appease his paymaster.
    There is a commonality in all of the above comments about this non-popular character, we already know Llewellyn and Green will roll over to the vicious pack leader without a murmur.
    As I understand the ways of Tasmania, its the people outside of government that call the shots.

  32. Stephen Menadue

    August 17, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Paul Lennon, Will Hodgeman, Lara Giddings and many others who did nothing when in a position to, how dare any of you even speak about this subject when you have willingly, complicitly looked the other way and pretended you couldn’t see the heartaches your decisions have caused.
    Lara Giddings, you told me in your office that you could not break contracts with The Federal Group because,”What sort of party would we be if we went around not honouring agreements”
    What a load of crap. If you really cared about this issue you would be involved at a grass roots level instead of pretending to care because of an upcoming election. Be careful all of you as people are very close to not needing you and when that happens, you will be shut out.
    All of you make me feel so sick about how you are simply patronising the people who put you in office and totally ignoring what it is that people are actually saying to you.
    We’ve had enough of this pokies shit and you really need to be on side instead of on the side.
    I cannot find the descriptives to paint the true picture of the contempt you have been showing us.

  33. Simon Warriner

    August 16, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    William, you have it backwards. Lennon is acting for Federal Hotels, or more precisely, the Farrell Family. He is being paid to use his reputation as a thug, and his knowledge of the hidden dirt within the Labor party to intimidate people who are pretending to represent their electorates into doing something that will diminish our common wealth, as well as preying on societies vulnerable via acts of deliberate and calculated deception.

    Speaks volumes about the man, it really does.

    That the Labor party acquiesce to his role in this disgusting game speaks volumes about its moral standards and those of its members.

  34. john hayward

    August 16, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    The presence of Thuggo and Old in the negotiations is a powerful testament that our political culture no longer worries about even a pretence to integrity.

    You can understand why: prodigious gifts to cronies in the pulp mill, land swap, airport, and numerous other malodorous transactions brought them no ill effects. United they stand.

    John Hayward

  35. PHilip Lowe

    August 16, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    just how much fucking money and power do some people want?It is immoral but not illegal.Time to stand united against it.Come on Andrew Wilkie,lead the charge mate.

  36. William Boeder

    August 16, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    How is it that a former no account Premier Mr 11% (or whatever the detestation factor) can be legally accepted to act in the best interests of Tasmania and its citizens?
    This same smug individual known for his threatening rhetoric is further well known to be eagerly influenced by …

    This ploy by the Pokies monopolist, Greg Farrell of the Federal Group will show an inclination to the payment of money to certain undeserving others to stealthily retain the ownership of a State deluding and cancerous inducing business activity gravely affecting our entire society here in Tasmania.
    It is my opinion that somewhere among this Federal plot is the heavy scent of underbelly criminal intent.

    Furthermore I have not been able to ascertain any singular benefit within or whereby this ex Premier had claimed or stated as being provided by his own hand, would have to be carefully studied to detect any substance of truth in the fact of beneficence to the State of Tasmania.
    If one were to ask the question; what harms have come to Tasmania and its people from the hand of this same former anti-the-Tasmania-people ex Premier?
    Then there will rise a great many with their own story to tell.
    A particular stand out State government undertaking by both he as Premier and Michael Aird as Treasurer that still stinks high to the heavens, is a story that comes quick to my mind the perplexing sale of this State’s owned Airport to a nominal subsidiary of the Macquarie Bank itself, then that the Macquarie Bank went on to glean for itself its outrageous management fees, introduction fees, conduct of sale fees, facilitation fees, then what may be the plethora of the which and whatever other unearned fees.

    This former confected undertaking is still being held tight from public scrutiny and or disclosure by Tasmania’s unique illegally-conceived “Commercial in Confidence” usage reasons that have absolutely no cause to claim this “C in C” for there were no competitor interests to validate the non-disclosure of this State undertaking by its 2 major proponents, Paul Lennon and Michael Aird.

    A far closer inspection of this sales undertaking will reveal that the institutional funds that were appropriated (being the monies held in trust for Tasmania’s Retirement Benefits Fund retirees) that now has since been destroyed through the actions of these 2 above-named sales proponents.
    No, Paul Lennon can not be permitted to again act for the interests of persons that reside outside the State of Tasmania, nor on matters detrimentally affecting the people within Tasmania.

    (edited)

  37. Chris

    August 16, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Now you can, since the installation of all new machines at Wrest Point, go there wiv ya Drug proceeds, or any other nefarious money, pick up one of their anonymous cards, insert it into a machine and load it, or several cards up with a few hundred or thousand dollars, withdraw the card from the machine, go to the adjacent money dispenser and withdraw all or some of the loot without having to state your name and or phone number as previous “wins” required.
    Can you Launder yer muny – sure can.

  38. Cataraqui

    August 16, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Lovely horse story. Didn’t the head of one of these magnificent creatures end up between silk sheets in a most popular gangster movie? Have to resort to a nom de plume here, but the lesson of Steve at #1 & #2 beg me to respond. I share the dilemma of secrecy and distrust in an extended family situation where the pokies have become a habit far worse than the other evils- a pensioner who took to the pokies with a few spare bucks, to put a little glitter into her lonely life. It’s not just the ding-ding-ding of expectation, hope and silent prayers to the Great God of Gambling that by degrees, threatens to steal her from us, it’s the insult of lies to her family. And also the unmentionable subject that fills the air with silence and reduces the frequency of once-happy visits to our darling, now frail, now dependent relative. No, she no longer makes those secret trips when nobody’s about, but … really? Why then does she always have an empty purse?And so it has come to this. There is a bright-eyed, glinting, garish, singing-monster in our midst that is the modern Fox Maiden, the primitives blamed for stealing our souls. It’s always been about. The manifestation of evil minds hell-bent to send us to hell, with all its modern guises and cloaks and utterances of jobs, excitement,modernity, sung from the highest levels of our democracy…our parliaments.Stephen has the courage to anecdote his failures and his remedies and his regrets. Well done Stephen, give this man a medal for his public courage…and take the medals off the monsters who get them for their community servitude all wrapped up in crackling PR. Multiply the Stephens and the subject of this anecdote by the thousands. See them in the night-lights and bright hours of the day emerging from the mouth of the monster, in wheel-chairs and walking frames, young mums in momentary escape from domestic drudgery, the suddenly-single from partner-loss and on and on we can anecdote the victims of Hells singing angels.But they rarely sing loudly and long. And it’s the siren-song of expectation that is the foundation of these cataclysmic reefs scattered across the Australian landscape. Dare they who profess to represent us not take in the full extent of littered carcasses on the beaches everywhere in their recommendations.

  39. Simon Warriner

    August 16, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Just a thought, but don’t those who are negatively impacted have recourse via the minor claims division of the small claims court.

    It is not overly difficult to do, allows a claim of up to $5k and it is difficult to see under what circumstances your targeted individual could counter claim. Every single secondary victim lodging a claim would certainly establish “the vibe of the thing”.

  40. Stephen Menadue

    August 16, 2017 at 4:36 am

    If you read none of the rest of these statements, read this and know that one thing is true. That thing is-if you truly believe in solving this problem, you must plan according to the intelligence gathered showing that NEITHER major party can be trusted to go so far as abolishing these voracious machines. No matter what ‘promises’ are made, know that it is probably within the Justice system that this matter will be finally sorted.
    I Believe many things concerning the subject of what and how the pokies destroy lives. The publicised ‘truths’ are often the polar opposite to what i know to be true and really should be called lies.That is, a known, false statement willingly given
    There is no more need for the presenting of facts and studies-the proof of the damage they cause cannot be denied by a rational person and has already been given. There is no more tossing and turning about whether anyone’s family and community are becoming impoverished-it is plain to see. Of all the lives that are so dramatically affected by the pokies,some of those people, little people especially are sobbing into their pillows because of the money flushed straight through the feed pipe to the Farrell family.
    Many go hungry while some think just eat well and never think about the other.
    All the periphery and main battling points in this war have usually failed to point out that there is a flow of much money from Steve in Gagebrook (who puts every welfare payment into the machines) and all the other addicts straight out of the state and into the Farrell’s coffers-All the while creating measurable heartache and economic loss to communities(and micro communities within them.). It is true that the Labor party have the opportunity to do something, something very good, about getting rid of them but will they …?
    Take the true path to the solution and let the political parties FOLLOW instead of lead(in circles).Do not trust them to deliver on anything called a promise or undertaking or facilitation etc.

    MAKE them work with us with no compromise on the foundation belief of ONLY abolition of these machines from everywhere except the casinos will be acceptable.
    Who wants to go through another set of lies about how prior promises could not be kept and that THIS time it will be different? I don’t want to have to endure that bile inducing, vanishing smoke and i’m also very tired of being shafted while standing so i reckon we skip our trusting of these people(the party politicians) and go straight to the Justice system!
    look at what the steps and reasons are for getting a win in the highest court and then ‘aim’ directly at the head.

    I continue to hear in my head the fantastic words contained in the movie,’The Castle’when asked what the basis of the claim is the response was,”It’s the vibe of the thing”.
    As an ex addict of nearly 3 and a half decades of addiction to the pokies, i can with all authority state that these machines eroded all the bedrocks in my life and helped me do many terms in jail because i stole to feed the machines placed there by someone who knew that there was someone like me who would do whatever i could to keep feeding the machines.The Licencees will say that they definitely don’t want to encourage criminal activities by the placement of their machines but will look the other way as a shitload of money is laundered via their gaming ‘lounges’. There’s a premise that surely must have some weight.

    The truth of the vibe of our communities and homes is now very sour and bitter and acidic in our throats as well as being heavy and tearing in our hearts. Who the fuck are the Farrells to plunder us so thoroughly?

  41. Ted Mead

    August 16, 2017 at 2:58 am

    Of course the ALP will dance the tune of the Pokies!

    It would be a sure bet that most elected ALP members have great reservations, or even disdain towards the pokie industry, but that won’t encourage them to advocate an end to the iniquitous industry.

    As we know money rules all, and the influential will target the ALP’s weaknesses. It was a very strategic move to put Lennon up as the industry’s lobbyist knowing that if anyone can permeate into the ALP core, it will be that man.

    The loss of a few thousand dollars in political donations won’t be Labor’s primary concern. It will be the well organized damaging media assault rolling up to the forthcoming election that will scare the pants off them.

    Let’s hope I am wrong, but history shows us otherwise

    Dirty, reprehensible politics if there ever was a case!

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