The Labor Party’s leadership has always been close to the gambling industry and it is mainly bogan Labor Party supporters and voters who play the wretched machines designed to accommodate society’s losers. Around Australia almost all machines are concentrated in blue collar electorates and that is where the big gambling losses are concentrated. So it was not really surprising – particularly given its track record on mining taxation and other reforms – to find that the Labor Party has abandoned the Wilkie reforms. I have, however, been surprised by the vehemence of the club industry’s opposite to reforming gambling given their self-evident self-interest in feeding off the miserable lives of problem gamblers. I guess that most of the bogans who inhabit these awful clubs really do find it difficult to distinguish between a biased interest group argument and intelligent opposition to a political viewpoint. Those Labor voters who do see through the cynical dishonesty of the clubs – an ‘elite’, proper subset of the bogan masses – probably figure that selfishly they can also thrive from the misery of the ‘problem gambling subset’ through subsidised grog and food at these clubs. The sharpie Labor politicians understand the motivations of the dimwit bogan segment of their support and the selfishness of the elite aspirational segment and have knocked the prospect for meaningful pokie reform on the head. Overall it is a miserable outcome from a pretty miserable government.
Update: Karl Bitar proved crucial in thwarting the intention to introduce compulsory precommitment. I will await with interest to see the tactics the gambling lobby use to thwart the outcome of the proposed trial. (1520)