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Gillard abandons agreement with Wilkie on pokies legislation

TAGs: Andrew Wilkie, Australia, julia gillard, precommitment

Wilkie and GillardAussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard has abandoned her agreement with independent MP Andrew Wilkie to legislate mandatory precommitment technology for poker machines.

In a report by The Australian, Gillard and Community Services Minister, Jenny Macklin, decided yesterday that Labour’s power deal with Wilkie could not go ahead. That’s it. It’s off.

Why? Well, as we already know, Wilkie gave Gillard the 8 May deadline in which to make her decision on pokie legislation in March last year. But after long talks and discussions the government has decided it does not believe that even “watered-down framework legislation” would have the numbers to pass through the lower house in that amount of time.

Last night, Wilkie apparently held a third round of meetings with Gillard, which focused on what kind of legislation could be passed by the deadline he set. The PM made it clear in the meetings that any legislation dealing with mandatory precommitment technology would have to be deferred until after the ACT trial, which would effectively push the deadline beyond next year’s election.

Gillard also tried to make Wilki understand this through a televised interview with Sky News, telling him to “get on the same page” on poker machine reform. “In order to get big legislation through, we need to get everybody on the same page,” she added.

However, Wilkie yesterday reiterated he would withdraw his support for the government if the PM didn’t honour their September 2010 agreement on pokie reform in full. He also rejected Gillard’s suggestion that he and the government don’t have sufficient numbers to pass his mandatory precommitment legislation, and stated that the two-hour talks with Gillard and Macklin had “given me plenty to think about”.

It seems any legislation for mandatory precommitment reform would have the support of Labour, Wilkie and the Greens, but it will need further support of four crossbenchers in order to pass through legislation. Will we ever see an end to this?

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