Tasmania’s Labor opposition leader Rebecca White says a pokie ban won’t affect ANZAC Day (File).Tasmania’s opposition leader says it is “distasteful” for a pro-pokies group to use Anzac Day to politicise the election debate surrounding the gaming machines.
Labor has pledged to remove poker machines from the state’s pubs and clubs by 2023 if it wins a March 3 poll.
Their position is at odds with the Liberal government, while the state’s top hospitality group says it will cost jobs.
Love Your Local – a group purporting to represent pubs and clubs – published an online video on Thursday in opposition to Labor’s policy.
In it, Glenorchy RSL president John Chivers says his club would be forced to close and Anzac Day “would no longer exist”.
But Labor leader Rebecca White on Friday labelled the claim “ridiculous”.
“It’s absolutely distasteful to politicise Anzac Day. It should never be, ever, discussed in the context of poker machines,” Ms White said in Hobart.
“I think most Tasmanians will look at what’s being said here and think that’s a stretch too far.
“Anzac Day is so much bigger than poker machines. It is a commemoration of those people who gave their lives.”
RSL state president Terry Roe distanced himself from Mr Chivers comments and described them as “disappointing”.
“Anzac Day services will continue on despite the outcome of the election,” he said.
A re-elected Liberal government plans to keep poker machines in pubs and clubs but wouldn’t renew the monopoly license held by Federal Group over all the electronic gaming machines in the state,
Federal Group, which also runs the state’s two casinos, has launched an advertising campaign against Labor’s plan.
As the first week of official campaigning came to a close, Ms White continued her health focus by announcing $59,000 in yearly funding to a breast cancer support service.
Premier Will Hodgman meanwhile was in Wynyard, where he plugged a $142 million plan to improve roads in the state’s north and northwest.
“This investment will significantly improve road safety and allow motorists to get to their destination sooner,” he said.