If there’s one thing you can count on in Canberra these days, it’s that nothing is guaranteed. As the government dances along the knife edge of minority support, the balance of power seems to be shifting on a daily basis.
Such is the case with Andrew Wilkie. Only a few months ago it appeared that his influence with Labor had been dealt a serious, almost terminal blow, with the role of Speaker moving from Harry Jenkins to Peter Slipper. Indeed, it was only a short time later that Julia Gillard reneged on her agreement with Wilkie, which in turn led to him withdrawing his support for her government.
Yet here we are just a short time later, with Slipper on the cross-benches and embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson joining him. Anna Burke has stepped into the Speaker’s role temporarily, reducing her influence to that of a casting vote. And amidst all the turmoil, while allegations and sordid details are replayed endlessly in the media, Wilkie has found himself once more in a position of power.
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It is hard to believe the NRL, a code which galvanises communities in two of the largest states in Australia, could be staring at financial collapse because of the Gillard Government’s gambling reforms.
It is hard to believe that the AFL, the national game which enjoys the status of a religion in four states and one territory, is also facing ruin because of the mandatory pre-commitment proposal to make gamblers think about how much they are prepared to wager on poker machines before placing a bet.
It is hard to believe because it is simply unbelievable. It is hard to believe because it is rubbish.
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It’s not often a Government Minister admits to a fatal flaw in their policy, so I congratulate Jenny Macklin for her honesty.
On Tuesday, while attacking clubs and the NRL because they are standing up to Labor’s mandatory pre-commitment policy, a policy that could destroy them, Ms Macklin revealed exactly why it will fail.
She wrote: “…before you sit down at the machine you nominate how much you’re willing to lose, set a limit you can afford – and then stick to it”.
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