In Australia, a trio of federal politicians have launched a controversial campaign designed to encourage industry insiders to come forward with secret information related to the nation’s slot machine industry.
According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the “Pokie-Leaks” scheme from independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie in partnership with Senators Larissa Waters and Nick Xenophon will see the three use parliamentary privilege to protect whistleblowers that come forward with privileged information about industry tactics, machine design and secret payments to politicians.
The campaign has already received support from the Alliance For Gambling Reform, which consists of business people, academics and politicians arguing for greater restrictions on Australia’s multi-billion dollar gambling industry, and has reportedly seen Xenophon’s Adelaide office receive a USB stick containing information that allegedly reveals addictive features programmed into modern slots.
“This information needs to be out there in the court of public opinion,” Xenophon told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “That’s where “Pokie-Leaks” comes in. If you know something that needs to be revealed, tell us, and with parliamentary privilege we can tell everyone.”
For her part, Waters told the broadcaster that the contentious campaign was necessary because major Australian political parties have been compromised by donations from the gambling and hotel industries.
“Avoiding this kind of scrutiny is exactly why the gambling lobby donated hundreds of thousands to the old parties in the federal election,” said the Australian Greens politician. “Until we get big money out of politics in Australia, the old parties will continue to serve their paymasters in the gambling lobby and Australians will keep getting ripped off.”
Wilkie, who represents the marginal Denison constituency in Canberra, revealed that he was keen to support the initiative, especially after the Registered Clubs Association Of New South Wales decided to drop its defamation case against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The slot operator had been suing the broadcaster after Wilkie claimed via one of its news television shows in November that musician and former Labor Minister Peter Garrett had been secretly offered money by someone in the gambling industry.
As part of legal proceedings, the Supreme Court Of New South Wales had granted the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the right to access the slot operator’s financial records although the entertainments firm dropped its case earlier this month before any information could be obtained.
“It was telling that [the Registered Clubs Association Of New South Wales] dropped its legal action against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on account of the court discovery process and requirement to open its books to scrutiny,” Wilkie told the broadcaster. “This just goes to show the steps that this particular industry player will go to in order to avoid scrutiny and of the need for whistleblowers to speak up.”