Listen: Tim Costello talks to Stephen O’Doherty
The latest funding disclosures by political parties show gambling industry donations of more than $1.5m in 2016-2017. However Tim Costello, Director of The Alliance for Gambling Reform, says that represents only the donations required to be disclosed. He says the true figure is much bigger.
The Alliance has called for a complete ban on political donations by the gambling industry.
The Alliance points out that Australian losses through gambling are growing at $1 billion per year. In 2018 Australians are likely to lose $26 billion, about half of that through poker machines.
Tim Costello says Australia has “the world’s worst gambling losses at $1,000 per capita”.
The true number is much higher, given that this figure is averaged across both gamblers and non gamblers alike.
“[That statistic] actually hides the extraordinarily pain of bankruptcy, kids going hungry, marriages breaking up, businesses going bankrupt, courts clogged”, Mr Costello told Open House.
“We have the highest number of pokies in the world.” Mr Costello said the public “overwhelmingly” wants to see reforms to slow down poker machines and limit maximum bets.
He says however that political donations have a “corrupting influence” on public policy.
Mr Costello spoke with Open House just after giving evidence to a Senate Committee hearing on political donations.
A major focus of the Committee has been on foreign donations to political parties.
However as Tim Costello explained to Open House the draft legislation contains measures that would treat any charity involved in advocacy as if it was a political party, something which could have a dramatic effect on charitable donations.