Opposition walks away from reforms to pokie laws

THE Federal Opposition has quietly walked away from its reforms to gambling and pokies laws, passed with much internal resistance during the minority government last year.

After months of debate over a large repeal bill to change social security laws including paid parental leave and family assistance, the Senate on Tuesday passed the bill.

But the changes, introduced by Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, also included the repeal of mandatory pre-commitment laws on the pokie machine industry, among other gambling provisions.

The original reforms were passed on the back of lobbying by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie last parliament, who has expressed his disgust at the repeals.

He said the changes passed on Tuesday night "effectively wipes out the modest poker machine reforms" passed last year.

"It's clear that Labor and Liberal care much more about the money they receive from the poker machine industry than they do about the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of Australians addicted to poker machines," he said.

Mr Wilkie said both major parties received "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in political donation from the clubs, pubs and casino industries.

"This is corruption of governance on an industrial scale because no business hands over that sort of money without expecting something in return," he said.

"The fact is the poker machine industry is unconscionable and the political parties are on the take.

"Frankly they should all hang their heads in shame."

The repeals passed by the Senate on Tuesday also abolish the National Gaming Regulator and removed ATM withdrawal limits at gambling venues.



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