Tasmania in turmoil over poker machines

Credits: Stephen Smiley / Twitter.
Credits: Stephen Smiley / Twitter.

A Labor MP has spoken against poker machines, separating from her party’s stance and generating “confusion and frustration” in Tasmania’s hoteliers.

Australia.- Concerns over poker machines in Tasmanian suburbs have caused turmoil between the state’s hoteliers group and Labor MP Madeleine Ogilvie. The representative for Denison (which includes Glenorchy, where the most money is spent on machines) commented against the machines, in difference to her party’s position.

Ms Ogilvie’s comments caused hoteliers to be “confused and frustrated” over her comments as they want to clearly know the party’s stance on the 2.4k electronic gaming machines in hotels across Tasmania, which last year took in US$80 million.

The MP commented at a local government meeting that she had concerns with poker machines, as well as online forms of gambling, abc.net.au reports. She claimed not to “particularly like pokies” and “would personally prefer it if they weren’t in the suburbs.”

However, she stated that if the party’s policy was to keep the machines in pubs, she would support it: “Our party room speaks, in the absence of a conscience vote, caucus speaks and we’re bound by that,” she said.

Steve Old, general manager at the Tasmanian Hospitality Association said he had phoned Opposition Leader Rebecca White to seek clarity on the party’s position. He labeled the situation as “completely frustrating from our point of view,” and said: “Madeleine has never come anywhere near our association and had a conversation about where our industry is at on any issues so I find it quite interesting she’s now come out.”

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