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


Tasmanian democracy is bought … democracy is sold …

“When corporate or other interests hand over cash to a political party they are entitled to expect that it will act in their interests.” – Premier Will Hodgman, 11 February, 2018

First published March 5

For years Premier Hodgman has said that Tasmania is open for business. We didn’t expect him to mean that the Tasmanian Government itself would be up for sale in a business deal, but the above words spoken during the 2018 election campaign, and his subsequent policies, dispel any doubt that that is exactly what he meant.

When a government “acts in the interests” of corporate donors, it cannot at the same time act in the interests of the people. Just how much Federal Hotels, and any other heavy donors to the Liberal Party such as Dixon Hotels, the Goodstone Group, Woolworths or others contributed we were not allowed to know before the election, but whatever it was that sum became the price of democracy in Tasmania.

The poker machine issue exposes that fork in the political road.

Survey after survey showed that over 80 per cent of Tasmanians wanted pokies to be taken out of pubs and clubs and restricted to casinos. But with the undoubtedly massive financial backing of the hospitality industry the Liberal campaign was lavish, loud and mendacious.

Treasury figures said that 1038 jobs would be at risk if pokies were restricted to casinos, but that would undoubtedly be compensated by more jobs in a more diversified hospitality industry, and in investment of up to at least $100 million in the local community; Gutwein and Hodgman used a grossly inflated industry estimate of 5100 jobs to terrorise employees.

Here is another lie: Hodgman assured us that hotels as small business would profit from the Liberal policy, but the biggest beneficiaries of that policy are hotel consortiums, including Federal and Woolworths, as mentioned above.

What might be even morally worse is that the bonanza for the Liberal Party over-rode any consideration of the harm Liberal policy would do to vulnerable people and their families.

The gaming machines used in Tasmania are banned in most foreign countries precisely because they are designed to hook people, and these machines are deliberately situated in low socio-economic areas where they do most damage to family budgets and cause greatest misery, while the huge profits drained from these areas go to a few already very rich businesses.

The pro-pokie defence is that people should have freedom to choose their leisure activities, but do their children have freedom to choose to eat, to dress adequately, or to hold their heads up amongst their fellows? On this argument, we should ban seat belts, crash helmets, road laws (‘it is my right to drive on whatever side of the road I choose’). The nanny-state argument used by the right to justify deregulation just gets sillier and sillier.

The sad thing is that although the large majority of people had had the opportunity to heavily reduce the toll that poker machines take by voting for Labor and Green policy, only 14 per cent said this issue would be enough to change their vote.

They evidently thought that policy was less of an election priority than health, education, infrastructure and the economy. Voters did not take into account the fact that the Liberals had done very poorly on certainly the first three issues and arguably on the last, according to the excellent articles on Liberal economic opacity by economist John Lawrence ( http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/category-article/108 ).

The undermining of democracy by the Liberals is however not confined to the poker machine sell-out.

The hard won Tasmanian Forestry Agreement, which the industry itself had called for, was torn up, to return Tasmania to the forestry wars of the past. The Anti-Workplace Protest Bill, the weapon used to return to those wars, denied people the democratic right of protest. Indeed, the High Court found this bill to be not only unconstitutional but confusing, vague, poorly written and of ‘Pythonesque absurdity’ in the opinion of Judge Galager.

And while on Liberal incompetence I could mention the health crisis, and the Safe Pathways and child care scandal.

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme effectively gave open slather to developers, plus a further gift when 300 properties in the Hobart area were delisted from the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

The government also played favourites with Tassal, allowing it several thousand tons of fish over the EPA quota, even when Macquarie Harbour was found to degraded into near sterility, and even then allowing Tassal into Okehampton over strong public protest.

The government downgraded biosecurity and now we have fruit fly.

Then we have cuts to the public service, secrecy over advice received from Treasury regarding the possible sale of the Tamar Valley power plant, the proposed takeover of TasWater, and allowing sacred sites in the Tarkine to be smashed by hoons on off-road vehicles.

The day before significant deadlines is a favourite time for the Liberals to spring unannounced events on the public. A day before the government went to caretaker mode, Gutwein off his own bat and reportedly without the Premier’s knowledge (believe that?), handed his good friend Adrian Bold licence to drill on public land up Mt Wellington, tracts of which had been already gifted to Bold to facilitate his hubristic cable car.

And a day before the election itself, a website was discovered announcing a Liberal plan undertaken weeks earlier to introduce legislation that would allow semi-automatic firearms, gun silencers, and lessen penalties for storing weapons, for use by farmers and shooters, in defiance of sections of the national agreement made after the Port Arthur massacre.

This bid for rural votes had not been brought into the public domain, presumably in the deceitful hope of forestalling public outrage. Of course, Hodgman denied that it broke the national agreement on firearms or that he was trying to avoid public scrutiny of this obviously contentious policy.

The Hodgman Government’s term of office has thus been characterised by incompetence, secrecy, neglect of public welfare, and self-admitted bribery.

The Liberal Party does not deserve the privilege of being returned to government.

*John Biggs is a frequent contributor to the Mercury and to other media on matters that inflame his concern about those public figures who appear not to be acting in the public interest. He is a retired academic who now writes fiction. He turns to non-fiction when angry …

Andrew Wilkie: Last year’s allegations of unlawful poker machine mods by Crown Casino … Clearly the Commission’s concern makes a mockery of Crown’s outright rejection of these allegations when I raised them in October. The casino obviously has a case to answer about the blanking of buttons and I’m sure that the truth will come out when the Commission finalises its enquiries …

Stephen Mayne: NSW remains completely captured by pokies lobby

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


  1. Mark Temby

    March 13, 2018 at 7:34 am

    Another good article by the Guardian drawing parallels with the SA election and mining tax campaign.

    “The Elwick Hotel is a double-storey Edwardian establishment amid a block of mostly nondescript late-20th century shops in Glenorchy in Hobart’s traditionally working-class north.

    “Built in 1904, it used to offer accommodation for punters headed for a bet and a day out at the nearby Elwick racecourse, home to the Hobart Cup. Since the 1990s, the Elwick has been radically transformed and now is most well-known for a different kind of gambling experience.

    “The hotel rooms are long gone, there is no kitchen and the front bar shuts by 10pm on a Saturday, earlier most other nights. The bulk of its floorspace is given over to a gaming room, which hosts 30 poker machines. It is open 8am to 4am, seven days

    “On a recent Saturday night, over the course of an hour, Guardian Australia saw three people at the Elwick’s front bar and 17 playing the hotel’s 30 poker machines. With one exception, those in the gaming room arrived and sat alone, mostly with an unused machine between each player. There was no chatter; the brief conversations witnessed were between bar staff and the handful of patrons who bought a drink. The punters may have been enjoying themselves but, if so, there was no outward expression of it.”


  2. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    March 7, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Re #47 … Mark, no one, and least of all me, is suggesting that we do not live in a corporate oligopoly with some democratic features that are managed by lobbies using publicrelationspeak.

    Your suggestions about election funding surely hits the likes of GetUp as much as the gun lobby. Does that affect all lobby groups who are investing in attacks on particular policies that affect their interests, or just the ones you don’t approve of?

    With respect, there isn’t that much policy around that is ‘just’ about ‘the evidence’. The main one I can think of is climate science based policy because climatology is a physical and not a social science.

    Social ‘science’ is riddled with ideological and values-based assumptions which only become obvious after enough time and political attitude shift has occurred to reveal them, much in the same way that old films get deconstructed by later audiences who have been exposed to different media, narrative and editing values, which they unconsciously assume.

    I think you are being wildly optimistic about ‘honest debate’. That has long since degenerated into public relations, marketing and sales, on all sides. That is why some people don’t like GetUp – because it has become too successful at working the corporate power suite.

    While the corporates don’t mind their lobby consciousness manipulation and obfuscation manual being used for minoritarian politics like the sexual fetish lobby, they get skittish when it is used on [i]them.[/i]

    But beyond that Mark, it seems to me that the ALP/Greens shot themselves in the foot and in political terms, deserved to lose the election. My analysis in #44-45 stands. All that political funding guff is, at least this time around, an excuse.

    If you want to see how major reform can be made to work in the teeth of very entrenched interests with a long and successful history of maintaining the status quo, the Hawke-Keating years are good example of the genre.

    And if you want to see how smart people are beginning to rethink how they deal with the gun lobby in the US, check out the attack on its funding model both inbound and out.

    They are not attacking the NRA per se. They are going after its political funding of representatives in the political system with a view to picking them off next election, and pressuring corporates to pull their funding to the NRA itself and the provision of benefits to its members.

    The NRA is far too powerful to be directly attacked. It has to be delegitimised and weakened FIRST, and that cannot be done in five minutes.

    For example, the marriage equality ‘movement’ was a systematic, well funded, broadly applied, media influence and significant mouthpiece savvy, academically active and very well thought out multi-decade consciousness-manipulating public relations and marketing campaign. And what went by the name of ‘debate’ was a highly orchestrated and crafted exercise in ideological agenda domination.

    That campaign is as much a classic of the genre as that of the tobacco industry lobby.

    And this feeds into my argument that the disappearance of real ‘open debate’ is both longstanding and system pandemic, as ALL public discourse is now fed into the same maw.

    You have to go back to the 1950s to see open political debate where audiences came to LISTEN to both sides of an argument that would make people think, weigh up and intellectually revisit, rather than stack the meeting with acolyte barrackers who just came to hear their prejudices confirmed, packed with all the easy-to-remember slogans, aphorisms, euphemisms and dysphemisms you would expect in a propaganda exercise- you know, I’m talking the days before ‘prejudice’ came to mean the other guy’s beliefs ..that we don’t like.

    The British Labour Party, which was led by a non entity, won the 1945 election against a very successful wartime leader because it won a debate that went right through, from the institutional to the grass levels, about what was the best direction for the country to go in. The pros and cons were argued throughout a society that was then much more politically engaged than for much of the time since, and a lot of people changed their minds as a result of the electoral campaigning, because the Labour Party vision and arguments for its position seemed to offer on balance a more hopeful future, rather than just more of the past.

    And Mark, if you think that is resurrectable in the twenty-first century, you are whistling Dixie.

  3. Mark Temby

    March 7, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    #49 … Max, on the information you have presented it would seem reasonable to modify some laws. There is already a national steering committee that includes police representatives ie, there is already a process to introduce national changes.

    The undermining of executive power through donations to a small government within our Federation should be treated with the contempt it deserves. For example, the importation of shotguns currently banned and agreed through this national agreement should not get backdoor importation through some ideological small time Minister.

  4. max

    March 7, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    # 44 Chris … I have no idea on what the principal agenda of the Shooters’ party is, but I do know that the present gun laws were thought out by people with no real concept of guns. As an example, pump action shot guns outlawed, but more lethal lever action allowed.

    I mentioned silencers on #39 and the misconception about them. Silencers should be banned in low velocity ammunition and rifles that use them, but guns and rifles that exceed the safe levels of decibels for health and safety need a change to the present restrictive and stupid rules. A change to this rule would only bring us in line with sensible gun rules in other countries such as New Zealand.

  5. Mark Temby

    March 7, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Although currently focused on the recent Queensland election, the Katter Party and One Nation there are presently articles in the Guardian investigating gun lobby donations:


    [i]”A pro-gun lobby group that helped to bankroll One Nation’s push for seats in the Queensland state election has links to a far-right anti-Islam group whose leader once advocated for Adolf Hitler’s portrait to be hung in classrooms.

    “As Australia’s strict gun laws come under pressure from the gun lobby, a Guardian investigation has uncovered links between one pro-gun group and key figures from Australia’s hard right.

    “Founded in 2016 in response to the controversy around the importation and classification of the Adler lever-handled shotgun, the Firearm Owners United group describes itself as a buttress to ‘the many hysterical voices calling out for further gun control in this country.’

    “It seeks to represent the interests of lawful gun owners and advocates for the abolition of the firearms registry set up under John Howard after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. The group has 60,000 followers on Facebook and claims to have ‘several hundred’ paid members.

    “But while the group’s founder, James Buckle, says the FOU is a voice for ‘law-abiding firearm owners’, the Guardian has uncovered evidence linking him to the far-right anti-Islam group the United Patriots Front. The UPF became prominent in far-right politics after anti-Islam Reclaim Australia rallies held across Australia in 2015.”[/i]

    Tasmanians should not have to wait 18 months before knowing the amounts and the donors who have dealt with Hidding and Hodgman. I wouldn’t underestimate the roles of Abetz and the national LNP as they continue to claw back support from One Nation and the Shooters Party following a series of poor regional by-elections and the Queensland loss. I doubt if Hidding is the brains of the outfit.

  6. Mark Temby

    March 7, 2018 at 10:23 am

    # 45-46, CN … Nope. Personally I only seek evidence-based policies using known facts on social, economic, scientific etc data. I don’t care which party, at what level of government, or when. Donations are a corrupting influence be it tax cuts, coal versus renewables, or gambling.

    Dastyari resigned over $4k in accommodation expenses despite both major parties each receiving $137k from the same Chinese developer. Joyce hasn’t resigned despite receiving free accommodation from a NP donor. He gratefully accepted $40k in cash from Gina Rinehart before being told that was a step too far.

    Ban all donations and publicly fund elections, and introduce an integrated Federal-State ICAC and we might get our democracy back with some honest policy debate. Quite simple really for conservatives, progressives, and even the village idiot.

  7. Christopher Nagle

    March 7, 2018 at 6:56 am

    And that is the thing about the status quo. Most people do find it satisfactory, whatever their stated reservations.

    If one deconstructs that a bit, one comes down to the hard fact that the pokies industry pays a lot of state tax and its absence would leave a large hole that would be ‘difficult’ to fill. And yes there are ‘hidden costs’ with problem gambling. But the beauty of them is….they’re hidden….and don’t appear in the accounts to anywhere near the real extent of their cost. Oh what a shame, but not nearly as much of a shame as our ruined social infrastructure that produces whole crops of people who haven’t been socially and morally toilet trained, because social governance is by definition authoritarian and repressive…

    Moral high grounding is the monopoly of the politically unsuccessful in a system that indulges them with the delusion that virtue is its own reward. You know, in the words of that deathless black humourist, Tom Lehrer, “They won all the battles, but we had all the good songs”.

  8. Christopher Nagle

    March 7, 2018 at 6:55 am

    If one searches around the commentary in this and other threads in these columns, all one can hear are the howls of protest, anguish, outrage and sense of injustice at having being beaten in the election.

    What I see very little of as anything that looks vaguely like a debrief and a bit of reflective humble pie.

    Taking on the pokies lobby in Tassie is a bit like taking on the National Rifle Association in the US. They are far too powerful to take on directly. They have to be systematically worn down over a protracted period so that by the time someone does eventually takes them on head to head, they have been weakened sufficiently to give their antagonists a fighting chance.

    That is how the forestry industry and Gunns got taken down, so it should be screamingly obvious.

    Secondly, everyone here assumes that whatever they deem to be a good or bad thing is a widely shared view. They talk glibly about ‘the community’ and what it does and doesn’t want, but it seems to me that most of them only listen to the voices they want to hear.

    Thirdly and following from secondly, self styled ‘progressives’ are not nearly as popular as they think. And part of the reason why they don’t realize how not popular they really are, is that they control the modern equivalent of the moralizing pulpits of our age.

    They have become quite expert at shutting down debate with a range of very prejudicial heresy stereotypes for anyone with the temerity to argue with them. The put downs are very effective at shutting people up, but hopelessly ineffective in getting real agreement.

    There is nothing like a private ballot box to give people the chance to indicate what they really think.

    Fourthly, the said self styled ‘progressives’ think that EVERY issue they identify as problematic is critical because no matter what it is, the correct line is universally overwhelmingly urgent.

    There is very little in the way of a disciplined hierarchy of what is the most important agenda; i.e., what requires absolutely immediate action, what needs protracted multi electoral cycle attention and what can be put on the backburner. And without that, there is no overarching structure for budgeting money and time for effectively getting into the agenda of the electorate…and winning them over.

    I think the really big daddy loser out of not doing this are going to be old growth Tassie forests. The really big winner is the pokies industry, which is now more difficult to get at than it was before. And behind it are a tranche of other free market corporate entities that are now going to get every free kick they want for the next 3 years.

    And fifthly, the ALP/Greens lost this election by forgetting that good ideas are two a penny. Any idiot can have a good idea that sounds great at the time because it ticks all the ideological boxes, like hitting the pokies industry because of all those poor thing gambling addicts and their dependants, who helplessly suffer.

    A winning strategy is brought together with a clear appreciation of ALL the variables, onto which a prioritized program can be bolted that has some hope of success, of which not all the agenda is disclosed, like an inquiry into the pokies industry that will be suitably damning and delegitimizing….. to beat the industry up with for the NEXT election, after one has had an election cycle to consolidate power.

    That is not dishonest. It is using da brains.

    Without that consciousness there is only the self confirming deaf ideological narcissism that sees that yes, everyone is ‘concerned’ about the gambling addiction problem, without listening for or appreciating that while they don’t say so, most people rather enjoy their little flutter on the pokies, because it gives their boring little night out a bit of excitement, colour and movement that it would not otherwise have.

    And yes they probably know that the proposed job losses will be less than the 5,000 touted by the industry, but really, are ANY job losses going to be necessary? Nobody is forcing people to gamble. And while that might be a bit of a specious argument, it will do to preserve a quite satisfactory status quo that fundamentally doesn’t have much sympathy for picaresque marginals and wastrells straight out of a modern cartoon equivalent of Hogarth’s ‘Rakes Progress’.

    … cont …

  9. Chris Harries

    March 6, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    (#41) Thanks Max,

    Is that the principal agenda of the Shooters’ party?

    I still think it’s odd to have a political party dedicated to such a small policy niche. To lobby for what exactly? I don’t think just silencers can be the whole box and dice.

  10. Peter Bright

    March 6, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Kev at #40 says .. [i]”(The Liberals) literally allowed their souls to be bought by the gaming lobby in return for (its) election funding.”[/i]

    I see a clear similarity between that tradeoff for money, and prostitution, so I’ll paraphrase and condense it …

    [i]They literally allowed their bodies to be bought in return for sex.[/i]

  11. anthony john

    March 6, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    A decade or so ago I wrote an article titled “Whither goest Democracy in Tasmania?” lamenting the actions of the Government at that time in arrogantly dismissing any opposition to the Gunns pulp mill proposal. I concluded then that while we still retained the trappings of democracy eg Governor, Elections, Parliament etc, the essential underpinnings of a fully democratic system had been eroded over time to the point that the trappings were all that was left.

    John’s excellent article only reinforced the view that governments can be bought by powerful vested interests with the voice of the people ignored or drowned out in a flood of disinformation, lies and cynical promises.

    Government of the rich and powerful, by the rich and powerful, for the – – guess who?

    History will not treat kindly those involved directly in the subversion of a once democratic system designed to represent and protect all the people, not just the privileged few. I predict there will be some writers now all fired up to tell the quite bizarre (in many respects) and unsavoury story of the recent State election.

    Some prominent names will live in infamy thereafter. This flagrant corruption of the democratic system will not quickly be forgotten or forgiven! And nor should it.

    Anthony John.

  12. max

    March 6, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    # 39 Chris … There is a misconception on silencers.

    It is impossible to silence a high powered rifle. All high powered rifles break the sound barrier and the loud crack is impossible to silence. What should be allowed is a sound forward device that saves the hearing of the shooter, dogs and people behind the rifle from the blast. The rest of the world is moving forward on this type of sound suppresser.It is not a silencer there is still the loud sharp bang, but the sound reduction is only directly behind the rifle but it’s still audible to everyone.

  13. Kev Rothery

    March 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I think what we witnessed from the Liberals this election was a tactical approach to retain majority government at all costs.

    They literally allowed their souls to be bought by the gaming lobby in return for their election funding.

    I suspect their relaxed gun policy emerged as a defence against losing votes to the Shooters and Fishers mob.

    Basically a “let’s do everything we can” approach to ensure winning the election, whilst foresaking any pretence of moral decency.

    There is always an abundance of self-serving politicians with their snouts in the public trough, but none more apparent than the Tasmanian Liberals right now.

  14. Chris Harries

    March 6, 2018 at 11:45 am

    When I voted here in Denison the ballot paper was surprisingly short. The three incumbent parties and the Shooters party (plus a little fly-by-night party that nobody seemed to know.)

    Then the gun issue arose and was touted as helping innocent farmers do their job. Hmmmm! Who is this gun lobby?

    We are supposed to believe that the Shooters Party is composed of busy farmers and the primary interest of those farmers is more powerful guns, with silencers even? I think farmers have many other urgent things to think about.

  15. Mark Temby

    March 6, 2018 at 9:13 am

    If you thought Hodgman and Hiddings’s gun law reforms sounded similar to the gun lobby’s push on silencers, shotguns etc then read today’s Guardian at:


    “Australian gun lobby groups pumped more than $500,000 into helping minor rightwing parties win seats in last year’s Queensland state election as part of a growing push to weaken the nation’s strict firearm control laws.

    “As Australia’s gun laws are again held up as an example to the US following the Florida school shooting, election disclosures reveal the pro-gun lobby is pumping thousands of dollars into the campaign war chests of parties such as One Nation and the Katter Australian party (KAP).”

    A better slogan at the election would have been, “Tassie the thin edge of the wedge.”

  16. mike seabrook

    March 5, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    want to liven up tassie/hobart

    how about some great affordable brilliantly located housing

    near albeura st primary school and collegiate

    the st georges church and adjoining land is ripe for a magnificent housing development and then there is part of the anglesea barracks site

    and could the libs find est. $300,000 to gravel a magnificent 300 metre watersedge walkway from the park at the bottom of finlay street ( which nearly adjoins princes park) to the purdon and featherstone park at the bottom of derwent street.

  17. Mark Temby

    March 5, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    In a bid to wallpaper the cracks in NSW the state government has announced [i]”About 20 per cent of the state, including its most socially disadvantaged areas and those with the highest levels of problem gambling, will have numbers of poker machines frozen in a reform the government hopes will arrest growing problem gambling hot spots across the state.”[/i]


    How does Tassie compare with the “most socially disadvantaged” regions of NSW? My “bet” would be about 80% of Tasmania. Deliberate recklessness by the Hodgman-Abetz Liberals to support a multimillionaire over Tasmanians who just cannot afford to gamble – although the ultimate loss of money through pokies is hardly gambling.

  18. Invicta

    March 5, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    #29 … Perhaps they can they understand some simple maths.

    We know poker machines in Tasmania are required by law to return $0.85 cents for every dollar gambled – or 85 per cent of the money put into them. This is an average across all machines in a given venue, by the way. Some machines can return slightly more than 85 per cent, some slightly less, as long as the average return for all machines is 85 per cent. And the returns on individual machines can be changed, so what seems like a ‘good’ machine one day could be a dud the next time you play.

    So, imagine you start off with $10, and you bet/gamble $10 on your first spin. Keeping strictly to the 85 per cent rule, the first spin will yield $8.50 for you and $1.50 for the venue. The second spin – you are now betting $8.50 – will give you approximately $7.23, and the venue gets $1.27. Third spin – betting $7.23 – you get approximately $6.15, the venue gets $1.08. After five spins, your credit is below $5.00. After 14 spins, you’re down to $1.00. If you play your last dollar, without a win, you have nothing, but the venue has taken approximately $9.15 (machines don’t return cash amounts less than a dollar).

    How long does it take to press a poker machine button 15 times? Way less than a minute for most of us. You can lose almost $10 in less than 60 seconds,making the maximum bet you can afford on each spin.

    Lower minimum bet machines – one cent, two cent, five cent, et cetera, will give you more time to lose your money, but can successfully take every cent you gamble after a few hours of play. Bigger bets, or higher minimum bet machines can clean you out much faster.

    But wait, you say, what about the ‘wins’? This is where the variable reward system comes in. Poker machines will give you the occasional win – to satisfy the 85 per cent return requirement – but both the amount and the timing of wins are unpredictable. This is what hooks players and keeps them playing. If the wins were predictable, say $1.00 every five spins, players would quickly lose interest.

    If you take your winnings when you’re ahead, good for you, but if you keep playing, eventually the run of ‘no-win’ spins will see your credit reduce to zero – unless you have unlimited funds and unlimited time to feed them into the pokies.

    That’s how the machines are designed. Poker machine manufacturers spend vast amounts on product development – and it’s not just on sleek, shiny boxes and engaging themes. They have teams of highly qualified mathematicians and software programmers working on complex algorithms designed to TAKE your money from you as efficiently as possible. Theoretically, machines must pay out 85 per cent of monies inserted, but that percentage is based on an infinite number of plays, over the entire life of the machine – in much shorter time frames, with the amounts a player is physically and financially able to gamble, total losses are very likely.

    And if you thought there was some element of predictability in modern machines, forget it. Some clever folk may have been able to work out ways of beating the old mechanical ‘one armed bandits’ but today’s machines have programs (random number generators) that reset the odds of all possible results after each spin.

    And there are no spinning reels anymore – just a video image that looks like spinning reels.

  19. Tony Stone

    March 5, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    How can you destroy democracy, when there has never been any form of democracy anywhere?

    The political systems world wide are all dictatorships; ours is an ideological elitist dictatorship.

    Democracy is a system which is run directly by the people, or their elected representatives. In Aus and Tas, the government representatives are not elected by the people, but by the political parties. The people have no choice as to who they elect and how they elect them, as that is all done by the political parties.

    This system is propped up by those who control political parties, corporations, crazed ideological organisations and institutions.

    When you add the unconstitutional con of preferential voting, which is not a direct vote, but another way of keeping the incumbents in power,you quickly see the people are committing suicide and will continue to do so.

    A real democracy would have the people directly voting for all policies and not leaving it up to a bunch of brain-dead idiots.

    On the other hand the people do vote for these fools, so they have no one to blame but themselves for the overcomes they get, and will be getting, in the very short future that lays ahead of us.

  20. john hayward

    March 5, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    #21, TGC … Your boys just got away with a big inside-job fraud against the public. You might give it a rest before you start with the next one you mentioned.

    John Hayward

  21. Wining Pom

    March 5, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    #20, ‘Remember the voters always get it right.’

    Well, apart from Adolf Hitler, Robert Mugabe, Ferdinand Marcos and there are lots more examples.

  22. Chris Harries

    March 5, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I agree with TGC (#21), Labor is not too fussed by the big election spend. They did quite well under the circumstances. These days money is seen as part and parcel of democracy by the bigger players.

  23. Robin Charles Halton

    March 5, 2018 at 10:55 am

    #14, JDN, thanks for the only realistic comment so far, well done.
    Its not hard to see why Liberals have been reelected is it.

  24. Luca Vanzino

    March 5, 2018 at 10:03 am

    How is it even possible to prosecute a case against The Pokies when 50% of the population is functionally illiterate?

  25. Mark Temby

    March 5, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Today’s SMH article on political donations by Manildra reminded me of a TT article a few years ago. TT had an expose of political donations by Tasmanian political parties received in a particular year. These included several from interstate including Manildra. It’s a good example of the money-go-round, poor but intentional disclosure laws and bought policies.


    “The company was found to have omitted disclosure on $23,355 in donations to political parties between January 2013 and February 2016. Those omissions, though, were barely one-40th of the $847,372 in declared donations during the period, Planning said in a statement.”

    Meanwhile in Tassie, it’s time to pay the piper as reported by ABC news …

    [i]”Federal Group, which owns and operates every poker machine in Tasmania, said it had spent “much less” than $5 million on political advertising, but declined to name a figure.

    “Spokesman Daniel Hanna said the Tasmanian Liberals had a clear mandate to progress the party’s gaming policy through Parliament.

    “The Liberal’s policy is to keep poker machines in pubs and clubs until 2043 under a new gaming model.”[/i]

    Donors don’t even look embarrassed any more! Once upon a time, in the original democracy, they would be exiled.

  26. spikey

    March 5, 2018 at 2:05 am


    perhaps someone should tell him about the 18 pictures

    at least their telling him something

    i’m telling you something

    we laugh at other countries pantomimes
    whilst squarking
    along with the song

    i no nothing

  27. Mark Temby

    March 4, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    When will it end?


    [i]”The South Australian opposition leader, Steven Marshall, has admitted to hosting the mysterious Chinese businesswoman behind an alleged $1.2m donation to the Liberal party at his home on several occasions.

    “The AusGold Mining Corporation director Sally Zou created headlines with a since deleted tweet on Friday that showed a cheque for $1,212,018 written out to the Liberal party. Code-breakers on Twitter have connected the amount to the date 1/21/2018 – Marshall’s most recent birthday.”[/i]

  28. Verdun Schmerl

    March 4, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    #20 … Remember the voters always get it right.

    Those who don’t my way are “feeble-minded’’ according to you. Keep thinking that way as it shows the intellectual snobbery that the majority of feeble-minded Tasmanians rejected.

  29. Invicta

    March 4, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Perhaps the Labor Party would have had more success if it had provided some brief information about how poker machines work.

    For example, poker machines in Tasmania are required to return $0.85 of every dollar ‘invested’ by players. This means that for every dollar fed into the machines $0.15 cents will be lost. IF a player ceases play when the machine is in credit in their favour, they will be ahead of the game. But eventually, with continued play, they will certainly lose money.

    Poker machines use a system of variable ratio reward to ensure players continue to feed coins into the slot. In the 1930s a psychologist named B F Skinner undertook a number of behavioural experiments on pigeons and rats, using a device known as a ‘Skinner Box’. He discovered the best way to ensure a particular behaviour is established, and persists, is to offer a variable reward (food) for a specific activity (pressing a lever).

    Skinner determined his theory to be directly relatable to humans. He proposed that variable reward systems could be used to encourage positive behaviours in people – no doubt he would be dismayed at the cynical appropriation of his ideas by the poker machine gaming industry.

    With the addition of pretty lights, and lots of bells and whistles, a poker machine is the ultimate Skinner Box, reducing thousands of individuals to the status of glorified lab rats, eagerly lining the pockets of gaming machine licence holders and venues.

    And, as we all know, the beneficiaries of poker machine loot carefully place machines where they will earn the most – amongst unemployed persons in lower socio-economic areas.

    It may also be of interest to know that poker machine operators and venues have remarkable service agreements with machine manufacturers. Larger venues generally have 24/7/365 service arrangements stipulating that non-functional machines will be repaired within an hour. Other venues and operators have service agreements that put most other industries to shame. If a machine is down, they want it fixed PRONTO – they won’t tolerate any interruption to the inward flow of cash.

    P.S. Western Australia doesn’t allow poker machines in pubs and clubs, and I believe the sky still floats aloft over there.

  30. Verdun Schmerl

    March 4, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    # 11 hilarious. Hey everybody, don’t forget I’m a victim too. I’d also be elected if it wasn’t for nasty pokies barons. Somebody call a waaambulance.

  31. Mark Temby

    March 4, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    PS: JDn, ABC News reported, “Senator Jomathon Duniam said the Liberals won because Tasmanians believed they were the best party to run the state. Voters never get it wrong — all these claims they were swayed by advertising and big spending campaigns — they never get it wrong.”

    It seems you are not alone in your opinion …

  32. TGC

    March 4, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    #20 … Appeal to the Supreme Court. Some TT contributors, and the Greens, will back you. Labor won’t take the risk.

  33. Peter Bright

    March 4, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    This election result was blatantly rigged, and feeble-minded voters were exploited to their detriment. The villains are surely laughing at how easy it was to fool so many ignorant homegrown Tasmanians.

    A rigged election is not a free election, and so I deem Saturday’s fiasco undemocratic and therefore fraudulent.

    Wikipedia has this to say:

    [i]”Electoral fraud, election manipulation, or vote rigging is illegal interference with the process of an election, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. What constitutes electoral fraud varies from country to country.

    “… Although technically the term ‘electoral fraud’ covers only those acts which are illegal, the term is sometimes used to describe acts which are legal, but considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of an election or in violation of the principles of democracy.”[/i]

  34. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    March 4, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for your article, John Biggs. You have gathered a number of examples which demonstrate the cupidity of the Liberals. We don’t seem to call it ‘laissez faire capitalism’ anymore, because now it is the dominant – almost the only – paradigm in our Australian society. I shake my head. As Ken Stone (Past Sec. of the VTHC) once admonished me: ‘For those who have eyes to see, let them see, and for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.’ Of course he was talking down to me at the time…

    We now have at the very least, plausible evidence that elections can be bought. Even if such a conclusion is not yet demonstrable (because at this stage we do not ‘officially’ know ‘who was up who and who did or didn’t pay’) readers, I pray, will excuse my vulgarities and will wonder themselves how more than half of the voting population chose to vote in a way coincident with the ubiquitous Liberal messaging . Permit me to add to Murphy’s Lexicon of Legal Aphorisms and other Absurdities : an Homage to Niccolò Machiavelli:

    -those who display the greatest amount of candidate posters will be accepted by the lumpen proletariat.
    -The ‘lumpen proletariat’ likes things easy … it does not like analysis to stand in the way of ‘rush to judgement’ (a.k.a. ‘vote and be damned’).
    -A wise despot will supply the masses with panem et circenses, yep … you guessed it: ‘bread and circuses’… otherwise known as keep the clods happy and let nightly T.V. and the ‘Net be our modern Coliseum.

    50 plus% of the c. 350,000 enrolled voters in this state voted Liberal. What a poor state we find ourselves. ‘Going to hell in a handbasket’. Instead of talking about stabilising our population, their ‘More jobs’ requires more demand. ‘More demand’ requires more people. ‘More people’ requires more despoliation of our natural resources and thus, of our environment. Liberals and their voters? … ‘a pox on them’.

    Of course, the bard wasn’t a member of the Tasmanian Liberal party, and his analysis of human character – so true to this very day – has been neatly d/misplaced by those who, preferring not to delve below the surface, take the quick and easy option … in this case, not ‘above the line voting’, but take the same path by simply voting according to minimum prevailing Tasmanian electoral requirments … they could vote for the first five candidates of their choice and leave the other squares blank … and then get the hell out of there. A pox on them!

    Such allowances are perfidious, for they require not of the voter that they assess all of the candidates on their merits – their individual merits – but just as the modern printing methods are held to have eliminated the donkey syndrome for the ‘donkey vote’, they require only that the voter marks the appropriate mark in five squares.

    That, John Biggs, is an affirmation of party politics here in our state … in our state of 5 member electorates. I know that you wouldn’t have forgotten the Liberal-Labor coup achieved when the Rundle-Groom elements co-opted the Labor hard-heads and reduced the size of our Parliament in a bare-faced attempt to eliminate the Greens…

    Never forget, we said … and I won’t. Meanwhile, we further add to global warming, and cross our fingers that the next violent storm, the next drought and so on … won’t dislodge us from our willful, unsustainable ways.

    I guess I’ve made myself clear where as to how I voted (smile). What use are jobs on a dead planet? ‘What use are profits in an empty boardroom? you may well ask.

    Alas, it appears that 90% of the electorate is willing to put both profits and jobs before our planet.

    What use are jobs on a dead planet?

  35. Ted Mead

    March 4, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Hodgman dominance reigns. Including the 5 article headers, there are 15 images of Will’s head on front page articles of Tas Times.

    What a week !

    Is this the Editor’s way of torturing us all?

  36. Mark Temby

    March 4, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    #14, JDN … Nope. I have no issue with any industry group putting forward its case with any political party or the community, but it has to be overt. An advertisement needs direct authorisation by the proponent so the community has the best chance of understanding the true source and intention.

    Political parties and elections should be publicly funded. The administrative arms should not be holding pens for failed candidates. Policy research officers are valid but should be subject to normal bureaucratic budget limitations.

    Ideally there would be no donations and certainly none by any organisation or corporation. Any donation regime should be in real time like any modern financial transaction. Any excuse by anyone (eg Hodgman) is simply BS and deferral to protect party income and the status quo.

    In the above scenario any monies or benefits provided to Dastyari, Joyce, Abetz or Lennon would be immediately referred to an investigative body such as a federal or state ICAC. Policies could again become evidence based rather than bought, and we might even regain our democracy and trust in politicians and business.

    If you are happy with the current “system” beyond team flag waving, then more’s the pity.

  37. john hayward

    March 4, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    #2, Godfrey … If our Premier, A-G. and law grad, Will., can get up on his second attempt to have our implied right of political free speech revoked, he may be able to coat-tail on Trumpty’s dream of outlawing this green nonsense of democracy once and for all.

    It’s not every day that we have a leader of Will’s vision and integrity. Only every three years or so.

    John Hayward

  38. Cameron Hindrum

    March 4, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Except, #14 … the notion that this government is “succeeding” is problematic. Firstly, yes there has been sound economic development recently – thanks in large to GST receipts and the state of the Aussie dollar; two things for which Dollar Bill Will can take no credit whatsoever.

    It made much of the 5,000 jobs that would be lost if poker machines were removed from pubs and clubs – a figure now well known to be significantly exaggerated.

    On one reading, this win is an absolute slap in the face for Tasmania’s homeless, those on hospital waiting lists and the long-term unemployed, on it goes. They probably don’t consider that there’s been much success lately.

  39. JDN

    March 4, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Blame, Blame, Blame.

    For the Labor party to base it’s election on removing pokie machines from pubs and clubs was a terrible political strategy that over 50% of Tasmanians disagreed with. Whoever decided that this would be their flagship promise of the campaign should be looking elsewhere for employment.

    It is always historically hard to remove freedoms from a populous, especially in a ‘retirement’ state like Tasmania which holds the highest median age in Australia by a large margin.

    Labor would have sold it better with a reform on better regulation and taxation, but they decided to go with the nuclear option, and it hurt them.

    Retail confidence is high and unemployment is the lowest in 4 years. Attribute this to whatever you would like, but the majority of people are not going to try and change a government that appears to be succeeding in the economy space.

  40. max

    March 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Just how much can we really expect from the newly elected Liberals promises. They all depend on a benevolent Federal Government that may well be scratching the backs of the other states in an effort to get re-elected, or elected with GST hand outs.

    According to Peter Gutwein and assisted by an $88m rise in GST receipts and a stronger economy delivering an almost 20 per cent rise in state tax revenue, the budget will still deliver a string of small surpluses: $77m this financial year, $54m in 2017-18, decreasing slightly to $45m in 2020-21.

    The state’s finances, including a reliance on federal funding for 62 per cent of revenue and public service wages make up almost half the entire budget. As well, the state’s unfunded superannuation liability continues to grow, from $6.3 billion in 2017 to $6.4 billion in 2021, costing taxpayers about $290m a year in interest payments.

    With the blowout of unfunded superannuations liabilities, did Peter really deliver a budget surplus? Shouldn’t he have done something about the $290m a year interest payments, or will he continue to sweep it under the mat?

  41. Mark Temby

    March 4, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Btw, the NSW government and Premier have a MOU with Clubs Australia to not change gambling regulations without first consulting it. I guess that’s a good return on investment.

  42. Kim Peart

    March 4, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Having been stung as a candidate in the 2018 election, I can see the need to deal with the mechanical vampires.

    A brisk march of research revealed a few alarming facts ~

    Suggestions for action would be welcome.

  43. Mark Temby

    March 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    #4 ChrisH,the advertising campaign by the gambling lobby directly mirrored the campaign by mining billionaires and corporations. It marched out the poor workers and their families across regional Australia and the voters followed. Advertising works for the gullible. Ask a roomful of people to raise their hands if they are gullible. No hands will be raised but, rest assured, they are in the room.

    As for the gambling industry from the big smoke, it panicked. Tassie would be the thin edge intruding into NSW, Victoria etc. It’s big business with Packer, Sportsbet, Clubs Australia etc. Pokies target lower socio-economic areas like the western suburbs of Sydney feeding off depression, poverty and addictions. Tassie is the regional poor of Australia. Hodgman does not represent the people of Tasmania. He is a puppet of the donors.

  44. Chris Harries

    March 4, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    #7. A one-seat majority is all you need in our tiny parliament, but he has the additional burden of the poll lacking democratic validity plus a fair bit of retrospective voter guilt. Many voters vote shamelessly on the day, albeit their consciences mess with their heads when they come to terms with what they supported.

  45. Robin Charles Halton

    March 4, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    The ferals removed my other Sue Hickey sign on Pitt St last night, followed by a further proliferation of Pat Caplice’s anti-pokie stickers all lower Hill St including a major lit flashing up traffic warning sign.

    At least two cars around our area close to my property have been marked with those little yellow stickers along their windscreens indicating threats directed towards them over street parking to the owners.

    As a result I may move from the moderate to right up another step to support justice measures with the backing of another Liberal government.

    Bizarre behavior needs to be taken seriously.

    Pat, you need to take some responsibility for the actions of those who misuse your stickers!

  46. Cameron

    March 4, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    TGC, dress it up however you want, but “quite well really” is something of a reach. They lost two seats and there was a swing against them – not a big enough swing of course, but a swing nonetheless.

    Dollar Bill Will now has a majority of one – and you can ask Malcolm Turnbull and Julia Gillard what an easy ride that is.

  47. Mike Bolan

    March 4, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Well put John. Given the Libs’ campaign, it seems that the main objection to removing the pokies was jobs at clubs and pubs, so why not … create a small, independent pokies standards council to run the whole enterprise at, say $1 million per year, whose brief is to make sure that the pokies pay out a fair win for punters?

    This would ‘save’ around $250 million over the period of the licence (to invest in health?) by cutting out the Farrells and any other pokies ‘owners’ taking money for being there. It would also make it easier to remove pokies in the future as no vested interests would be involved.

    Such a model offers many benefits and a solution to the ‘jobs’ objection. It also clearly demonstrates the fallacies behind the Libs ‘privatisation’ theories.

  48. Chris

    March 4, 2018 at 11:49 am

    At least we have the grinner back, and he will be able to conduct an enquiry into the negative advertising dreamt up by the Choc Top Kid.

  49. Chris Harries

    March 4, 2018 at 11:38 am

    The money factor is scary, not so much that it may have bought one election result, but that the taste and the experience of this big money campaign is likely to take hold permanently.

    I’ve been tracking the escalating commercialisation of sport for many years, whereby money has gradually become the biggest factor in determining major league results, and whereby sporting figures are now bought and sold for 6-figure dollar amounts. The most fascinating aspect of this trend is the ready acceptance of the sporting public because these transitions have taken a hold so gradually. In sport, big money is the now accepted as the New Normal.

    Such a far cry from the 1960s when sporting codes were strictly divided into ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’. Money was then seen to be a corrupting influence because it destroyed the traditionally treasured idea of the level playing field.

    There is a real risk that galloping commercialisation of elections can easily go the same way. In his defence, the Premier was no doubt correct in stating that the monied campaign we have just seen was ‘all within the law’. That being technically the case, they know if they can do it once they can do it again.

    The most fascinating thing about this is that the public doesn’t see its vote as being influenced, so the big election spend is accepted as ok and not abhorrent to the idea of proper democratic process. We may well be lurching towards full-on American style electioneering. That’s the scary part.

  50. TGC

    March 4, 2018 at 9:56 am

    “The Liberal Party does not deserve the privilege of being returned to government.”
    And yet it was – and quite well really – most commentators appear to believe Labor did not do very well – and the Liberals better than might have been expected (forecast)
    However – fair’s fair – Labor and the Greens were overwhelmingly elected on TT – Liberals barely scored one seat – so that’s a bit of a consolation.

  51. Pete Godfrey

    March 4, 2018 at 9:47 am

    “When corporate or other interests hand over cash to a political party they are entitled to expect that it will act in their interests.” – Premier Will Hodgman, 11 February, 2018

    Wow – an honest politician !!!!!!

    For years Pollies have been telling us that money doesn’t buy policies, but now we have it from the horses mouth.

    We already knew, but it is good to have it confirmed, that the Libs work for the big end of town exclusively.

  52. Keith Antonysen

    March 4, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Turnbull has stated a number of times that the role of government is to create safety for citizens,and presumably the same applies to State governments. The prism of safety is not applied to people with gambling addictions or people with mental illness.

    It is not only the individual who gambles who is impacted but, as John has stated, their children and wider families.

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