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Monday, January 23, 2012

Pokies argy-bargy waste of time, says Julia Gillard - 23rd January 2012

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PM Julia Gillard is sticking by her decision to pull back from a deal on poker machine aka slot machine reforms, stating there is no point to parliament engaging in political argy-bargy over the issue.

The Prime Minister insists there is insufficient support in parliament's lower house for mandatory pre-commitment, despite her deal with independent MP Andrew Wilkie following the 2010 general election.

Instead the government will fund a trial of the problem-gambling measure across the ACT in 2013 ahead of a possible national rollout in 2016.

The decision has pissed off anti-gambling advocates and Mr Wilkie, who has withdrawn support for the minority Gillard Government.

It is however welcomed by Labor backbenchers who have felt the stress of an awesomely effective campaign war by the registered clubs sector.

Ms Gillard says there is no point in putting Mr Wilkie's measure to the parliament because it does not have the support of the coalition and key crossbenchers.

"We can have all sorts of political argy-bargy and end up with nothing," she told press today.

"Or we could get a piece of legislation through the parliament that will deliver real change."

Other government measures will include limits on ATM cash withdrawals at gaming revenues.

Ms Gillard also flagged the government may be prepared to consider a trial of $1 bet limits on "low-intensity" poker machines.

But she said that measure, proposed initially by Mr Wilkie and backed by the Australian Greens, was the most costly option to address problem gambling.

The Prime Minister has defended the decision to pay ACT clubs at least $37 million to take part in the mandatory pre-commitment trial.

The Government will pay clubs a monthly compensation fee for the year, and is also offering a total of more than $1 million for training, specialist workers and business planning.

It has not ruled out there could be more compensation as the trial is reviewed.

"We need the cooperation of the clubs to have the trial," Ms Gillard said.

"To go down the path ... you don't give them full compensation would equal having no trial."

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