This Tasmania State Election won by Will Hodgman Liberal Government has sadly been bought by the pokies industry. Labor Leader Rebecca White bravely, but in my opinion foolishly promised to roll back poker machines in pubs and clubs in Tasmania if she won the election on the weekend.
The 20 year deed of agreement expires in the next 4 year term of government so it was a perfect opportunity to get rid of pokie machines in pubs and clubs in Tasmania at not cost to the government. Rebecca White knows they are unpopular and is fully aware of the social harm they do.
Her policy to roll the pokies back was a good one in theory but in practice it was always going to be a hard sell because the powerful pokie lobby threw bucket loads of money into this election and this saw a massive swing back to the Liberal Party late in the election campaign. Advertising by the pokie lobby and the Liberal Party started on Boxing Day. Labor advertising did not start until only a few weeks out from the election and television advertising was outnumbered by many estimates at about ten to one.
Although Rebecca Whites policy was sound, in my opinion she should have not released it until a week or two out from the election so that the pokie lobby would not have had time to prepare their pro pokie, anti Labor/Green campaign. Rebecca White is young and inexperienced and I am sure she will learn from this.
Pokie machines are big business and big, powerful pokie companies on the mainland had a vested interest in the campaign. If Rebecca White was successful in this election on an anti pokie platform it would have given oppositions in other pokie states to try the same thing. Therefore threatening the entire pokie industry Australia wide.
The sad thing is that our democracy has been sold to the pokie lobby by Will Hodgman. The pokie lobby did not spend this money on advertising for nothing and will expect a return on their investment. Tasmanian’s will have to wait until the end of the financial year to find out how much the pokie lobby has bankrolled this campaign. Tasmanian’s even then won’t know for sure how much was given by the pokie lobby because under current laws only donations above $13 200 have to be disclosed. So the pokie lobby could be giving $13 000 every day since Rebecca White’s policy announcement and none of it will have to be disclosed.
What should Rebecca White do to defeat Will Hodgman?
Rebecca White has stated that she will continue on with her policy to phase out pokies but I can’t see how. This was a once in 20 year opportunity to rid of the pokies at no or little cost to the tax payer. If Will Hodgman gives the pokie industry what they want and frankly what they paid for and they get another 20 year deal it becomes impossible for Rebecca White to phase out the pokies without being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.
If I was Rebecca White I would change my tune if she wants to win the next election. She can still save face by saying this was a one in twenty year opportunity for change. The Tasmanian people have spoken and once another deal is locked in by Liberal her hands will be tied for another twenty years. If she is Labor Leader or in government in twenty years she will review the policy again at that time.