Call for parties to come clean on pokies

Posted on 12/17/2018

Tim Costello has called for a ban on undisclosed political donations from the pokie industry (File).The NSW Greens are calling on both major parties to disclose all donations they have received from the pokies industry after the state was identified as the “epicentre” of the problem.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform said the current disclosure cap for political donations was providing a “secret veil” for the gambling industry to pedal influence.

Political parties have to disclose donations worth more than $13,200 under commonwealth laws and that, the AGR said, meant smaller donations fly under the radar.

Federal and Queensland Labor recently voluntarily dropped their own disclosure threshold to $1000 but other states are still following the Commonwealth rules.

Alliance director Tim Costello called for a nationwide ban on political donations from the pokies industry.

Mr Costello argued political donations from gambling outfits were a problem wide but the biggest issue is in NSW.

The state was the most “pokies-captured jurisdiction,” he said, adding he was deeply suspicious that further undisclosed donations – below the threshold – were also coming from pokies interests.

Greens MP Justin Field said both the Liberal and Labor parties should disclose all gambling donations.

“We have seen the industry’s access to politicians, the revolving door between gaming-related ministers and gambling companies and real resistance against stronger protections,” Mr Field said in a statement on Friday.

“The undue influence of this toxic industry and its impacts on people and communities must be kept in check.”

A NSW Liberal Party spokesman told AAP in a statement that the party “fully complies with our obligations under the Commonwealth electoral law”.

Labor Opposition leader Luke Foley said he didn’t know how much the ALP in NSW received in poker machine donations but that he was open to discussing further restrictions.

“These things should always be looked at (and) I’m on the record as supportive of very strict caps on donations to ensure that we don’t go down the American road of big money politics,” Mr Foley told reporters on Friday.

“Any arguments for policy change I’ll deal with on their merits, and whether someone has donated a brass razoo to the Labor party or not is not something I care the slightest about.”

The biggest gambling donators identified by the Alliance for Gambling Reform for 2016/17 were Ros Packer ($500,000), Crown Resorts ($209,000), Clubs NSW and Clubs ($170,000).