Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gambling & government in Victoria

I’ve been too busy to follow the recent news on gambling contracts in Victoria in detail. But there is a smell around this issue that makes me suspicious.

An Upper House parliamentary inquiry into alledged corruption by the State Government and by consulting firm Hawker Britton has returned an open finding although it asserted that the refusal of former premier Bracks to give evidence hindered its investigation. Former Labor minister David White was offered a $350,000 success fee in acting for Tattersall’s and the firm of which he was director (yes, Hawker Britton*) received access to confidential information in relation to the lottery license tender process before its public release. Bracks denied ever speaking to Tattersals regarding licences though the committee of inquiry concluded he probably did. There are many unresolved issues – Bracks seemed to have a non-incidental role:

‘...the committee also heard from former Tattersall's trustee Peter Kerr, who said Mr White's subsequent report of the Lorne meeting with Mr Bracks was the 'blockbuster' development that led Tatts to float on the share market’

The Greek company Intralot has got that share of the lotteries market that Tattersals lost. Intralot spokesperson Tony Sheehan is a former Labor Treasurer in Victoria. Some wicked gossip has suggested Intralot does not always walk the straight and narrow.

As many have pointed out there are numerous Labor Party hacks and ex pollies involved in advising the $2.5 billion gambling industry in Victoria.

A week ago the current Labor Premier John Brumby announced that both Tabcorp and Tattersalls were no longer to be the duopolies controlling most of Victoria’s pokie industry. I praised the decision but my guess is that the background to this decision would make a great blog post.

I have respect for John Brumby's integrity. As a speculation – I have no firm evidence for it – I wonder whether the machinations in the gambling industry over recent weeks represent an attempt by Brumby to extricate the Labor Party from a scandalous history in relation to gambling in this state.

If readers had information I would be interested in hearing about it. Either through the comments thread or by email to me directly.

Of course these issues have been ignored by leftwing blogs. They are still preoccupied with the AWB 'scandal' and 'children overboard' incidents and, as any honourable lefty will tell you, allegations of corruption are only ever a problem when they occur on the conservative side of politics.

* White is still listed as a staff member. Its MD is a former Carr staffer.


Anonymous said...

Harry, the gambling companies employ Labor party identities because Labor is in power in the states. If the Liberals were in power it would be the other way around.

Why do you think Tenix employed ex Liberal Defence Minister (amongst other things) Peter Reith after he quit politics? To help them get defence contracts, perhaps?

And, by the way, when you write AWB 'scandal', do you mean to imply that it wasn't a real scandal?

hc said...


AWB was dealt with by an inquiry, the government was exonerated and the AWB officers found cupable. The left in Australia insisted that trying to sell grain in Iraq was a normal commercial transaction for which the normal conventions obtain. I probably agree though I think the issue is dead now - a couple of weeks ago proposals for circulated for criminal prosecutions against Coalition politicians.

The gambling lobby was charged with getting information in advance from the Government.

My point was that Brumby was trying to extricate the ALP from scandal by diminishing the role of connections with Tattersalls and TabCorp. The role of Intralot is intriguing - I admit I don;t fully understand.

Anonymous said...

Harry, the royal commissioner's terms of reference severely circumscribed how much he could inquire into coalition ministers' role in the AWB scandal, so at best you can say the jury is still out there. In any case, it was a scandal, undiluted by inverted commas.

As for gambling in Victoria, you may be right that Tattersalls lost the license because of their lobbying activities, but why would the government have also punished Tabcorp?

As for Bracks, the committee was told something by Peter Kerr who said he was told something by David White, who said he was told something by Steve Bracks.

In other words, it's all hearsay.

hc said...

I love the way Labor luvvies stick to their heroes through thick and thin.

Anonymous said...

Harry, for Labor supporters, there's no thin at present, or as far as the eye can see.

It's all good.

Anonymous said...

Harry, the Greens have criticised the ALP for its links to the gambling industry more than once:

I agree it hasn't gained the same attention as AWB etc., but it's wrong to say that the Left has ignored it.

Anonymous said...

Hiya Harry, how're they hanging?

The way the Liberal Party in Victoria is going, as per today's revelations, Labor will be able to what they want with gambling or anything else, suspicious or otherwise, until about the middle of the 23rd century.

C'est la vie.

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