Don't compensate Labor: Xenophon
The fall-out from the proposed trial in the ACT of curbs on gambling is today focused on how Labor-controlled clubs will handle the federal compensation for expected losses.
Canberra's licensed clubs will share at least $36 million worth of compensation and the Federal Government will pay to upgrade or replace some of their older poker machines if a trial of mandatory pre-commitment technology goes ahead.
Ms Gillard wants an ACT trial of the technology, which requires players to set maximum loss limits before a pokies session.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon described the trial as a smokescreen and called on the Labor Party to rule out benefiting from taxpayer funds, given that four venues for the trial are owned by the Canberra Labor Club Group.
"Labor shouldn't be filling their own coffers as part of this sham trial," he said.
The offer made to ACT clubs by the government says the federal compensation for gambling losses is not to be used for political donations.
"How the hell will that work?" Senator Xenophon said, pointing out that the ACT Labor Club donated large amounts of money to the ALP.
"If the PM is serious about making sure her own party isn't benefiting from taxpayer funds, she needs to exclude the Labor Club venues from the compensation scheme."
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is standing by her decision to break the agreement with Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie over mandatory pre-commitment technology.
"We can have all sorts of political argy-bargy and end up with nothing or we could get a piece of legislation through the Parliament that will deliver real change," she said.
Mr Wilkie said he did not think Ms Gillard ever intended to honour her agreement with him, or did enough to convince MPs of his plan's merits.
He said West Australian National Tony Crook had barely been lobbied by the government to support the proposal.
"So there is a prima facie case that the Government was never going to honour it," Mr Wilkie said.
He said the Government would be "quite foolish to burn me".
"It's a much more fragile one-seat majority than it had previously," he said.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the broken deal was an act of betrayal.
"The Prime Minister began last year with an act of betrayal over the carbon tax and she's begun this year with an act of betrayal over poker machines," he said.
Today's Essential Research poll shows 62 per cent of respondents in favour of the proposal for mandatory pre-commitment for poker machines.
A written offer from Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin for a trial to be conducted in Canberra will be considered by ClubsACT members over the next fortnight.
The written offer said the trial would run for a year from February 2013, followed by a six-month evaluation and review period.
Venues would be paid in monthly instalments a combined $36million participation fee: 20 per cent of their 2010-11 gross gaming machine revenue.
During the trial, two reviews would be conducted by an oversight committee and an independent auditor to assess if the compensation structure should be revised.
with Peter Jean