MP Andrew Wilkie and the Gillard government have yet again reached an impasse. The two parties have been in talks for the past month, working out the details of the new pokie reform trial that will take place in Canberra. They have been stuck on one small detail, however – will the poker machines be ready to go if the trial is successful?
Wilkie wants to ensure that the poker machines are able to switch on mandatory precommitment technology permanently if the trial turns out to be a success. While Community Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has stated that the draft legislation supports this, Wilkie does not believe this to be the case. He wants cold, hard confirmation – and he is giving Macklin until tomorrow night to provide it.
At the end of the day tomorrow, Macklin must confirm that the trial pokies will be able to permanently support pre-commitment technology if need be. If she does not respond, then Wilkie will withdraw his support.
At this point, it does seem as though the government has no plans of honouring Wilkie’s wishes. However, they cannot afford to lose his support. The debate over the poker machine reform trial continues, and we will keep you updated as the story progresses.