Open Door On Lobbyists To Close

Open Door On Lobbyists To Close

Victoria Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu

Victoria Shadow Minister for Gaming Michael O’Brien

Coalition Will Ban Gaming Lobbyists

Victor P Taffa

A Baillieu Government will ban lobbyists exerting improper influence over government processes to award gaming and wagering licences, Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Leader Ted Baillieu said today.

“Premier John Brumby and Labor have allowed the gambling industry to expand in Victoria over the last 11 years with an open door allowing unrestricted access to gaming lobbyists.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“Victorians have been alarmed by revelations of inappropriate access to sensitive licensing documents by lobbyists during the lottery licence bid and secret negotiations over the expansion of the Crown Casino and a potential second casino.”

 

“Serious breaches of tender rules have never been fully investigated by the probity auditor, the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation or the Lottery Licence Steering Committee.”

“It’s time to bring this to an end and rid Parliament and the legislative process of gaming industry lobbyists once and for all.”

“A Coalition Government will amend the Gambling Regulation Act to expressly prohibit lobbying activities in respect of the awarding or altering of any gaming and wagering licence.” Mr. Baillieu said.

Labor rejected the Coalition’s legislative amendments in 2008 to ban lobbyists from the process for the issuing of new wagering and keno licences to operate from 2012, confirming the special access for Labor mates which has been a hallmark of its administration of gambling over 11 years.

The tainted process for the awarding of lottery licences was exposed by both the Legislative Council Gaming Inquiry and the government’s own Independent Gambling Panel chaired by Ron Merkel QC, yet Labor chose to ignore the Merkel Panel’s recommendation to prohibit lobbyists from participating in the process for the award of gambling licences.

The Legislative Council Gaming Inquiry found the probity of the lottery licensing process was compromised by sensitive information being passed from the Gaming Minister’s office to Labor lobbyists Hawker Britton.

The independent Gambling Licensing Panel, chaired by former judge Ron Merkel, stated: ‘The Panel is of the view that the future probity requirements for a lottery or gaming licensing process should expressly prohibit lobbying activities in respect of that process once it commences … the Panel … finds the very notion of lobbying in respect of a proposed or actual lottery or gaming licence application antithetical to the probity of the licensing process’.

 

VIC Shadow Minister for Gaming Michael O'Brien

VIC Shadow Minister for Gaming Michael O’Brien

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow Gaming Minister Michael O’Brien said Labor’s decision to keep lobbyists involved with the process for awarding gambling licences compromised the integrity of those processes to protect the financial interest of its political mates.

“Labor’s approach opens the door to the sort of inappropriate lobbying activities and preferred access to sensitive material that tainted the lottery licensing process.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“We do not know the full story behind the awarding of lucrative lottery licences to companies engaging high-profile Labor Mates.”

“The Coalition’s Gaming Lobbyist Ban will safeguard the future of the industry, guarantee the highest level of probity and ensure tough and transparent rules apply to the industry and any future government.” Mr. O’Brien said.