THE pokies war is over. The poker machine industry has claimed victory and has called off its controversial $40 million campaign that targeted worried Labor MPs in the Government’s most marginal seats.
Patrick Lion The Courier-Mail April 02, 2012
In a big boost for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her team, more than 4200 clubs across the country will be told today to remove anti-Labor propaganda after Clubs Australia decided it was happy with the Government’s watered-down reforms.
Specifically targeting 41 Labor electorates in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, the grassroots campaign will now scrap 2.5 million beer coasters, thousands of posters and banners, cease advertising and order staff to stop wearing campaign uniforms.
The campaign was launched to stop reforms hatched with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie that would have seen the rollout of mandatory pre-commitment (MPC) technology in 2014.
But Labor MPs – many pointedly featured in campaign material for allegedly hurting communities – have been furious the attacks are still continuing almost three months after the back-down.
Some complained to their local venues in the hours after the announcement on January 21.
In a memo sent to clubs today, Clubs Australia chief Anthony Ball hailed the campaign as “highly successful”, despite having spent only $3.5 million of its war chest.
“While we remain on alert, watching the progress of the Federal Government’s legislative agenda and political manoeuvrings, it is time to remove campaign material from our clubs and surrounds,” Mr Ball said.
The move comes as the Government failed to introduce legislation last month due to a lack of crossbench support.
Mr Ball said while there was still some uncertainty, he believed the industry had a “clear public commitment” by Labor to base reforms on evidence rather than the demands of Mr Wilkie.
Ten ministers have been targeted nationally, including Communities Minister Jenny Macklin and her senior Queensland colleagues Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan and Trade Minister Craig Emerson.
Other Queensland MPs targeted included Yvette D’Ath in Petrie, Graham Perrett in Moreton, Kevin Rudd in Griffith, Shayne Neumann in Blair, Kirsten Livermore in Capricornia and Oxley’s Bernie Ripoll.
Mr Ball will tell clubs today that the group’s NSW arm is planning to roll out a positive campaign.
“I want to thank clubs and the many other individuals and organisations too numerous to mention for supporting our campaign against MPC,” he said.
“It was an essential campaign that vigorously defended our great industry.”