NSW premier denies removing minister due to ClubsNSW pressure

Credits: https://education.parliament.nsw.gov.au/
Credits: https://education.parliament.nsw.gov.au/

Dominic Perrottet has denied that he was pressured by ClubsNSW to remove Victor Dominello as the state’s gaming minister.

Australia.- New South Wales prime minister Dominic Perrottet has denied that he removed Victor Dominello as the state’s gaming minister after being pressured by ClubsNSW. Dominello had made the claim in an interview with ABC that was aired on the programme Four Corners, in which he called for an investigation into the lobby group’s influence.

Dominello proposed the introduction of mandatory cashless gaming cards for poker machines in the state when he was responsible for gambling policy. The reform, which would require all players to set loss limits, was fiercely opposed by ClubsNSW, which claimed it would result in the loss of 9,000 jobs and destroy clubs by cutting revenue by up to 30 per cent.

Dominello said he and his colleagues in government and parliament were immediately targeted by NSW club officials. Prime minister Dominic Perrottet stripped Dominello of the gaming portfolio when he reshuffled his cabinet in December 2021.

Perrottet, who has made gambling reform a centrepiece of his re-election bid, denied that the lobby had influenced his decision, adding that he had not seen any evidence of the industry improperly pressuring politicians.  However, he did say that he was uncomfortable with the role of donations in politics and has called for broader donations reforms in NSW. 

Perrottet stated: “I’ve made it very clear in relation to donations, banning donations, from not just pubs and clubs. Politicians look after people, not vested interests. Now, people will have opinions on public policy all the time, and I respect that.

“If I disagree with them, I’ll tell them so. Clearly, ClubsNSW disagrees with me in relation to pokie reform, but I’m not here for ClubsNSW. I’m here to look after the people of our state.”

ClubsNSW said in a statement: “There is no active or planned campaign against any sitting MP or candidate in the upcoming NSW election. The brief campaign in the Murray region late last year was sparked by the frustration felt by the 49 local clubs in the Murray electorate about Ms Dalton’s refusal to meaningfully engage with them.”

It’s not the first time that ClubsNSW’s lobbying has been questioned. Last year, it launched a campaign against independent MP Helen Dalton after she joined an independent coalition seeking gambling reform. 

The Guardian reported at the time that the group planned to distribute posters with the statement “Helen, your attack on local clubs is wrong” at 49 venues.

See also: Australia: gambling industry criticised for giving free tickets to politicians

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