About a week ago, I was having some fun on Twitter at the expense of the gambling industry. They make outrageous claims every day about poker machines, and problem gamblers, and just how much community good the gambling industry is doing… so I started to make some more extravagantly outrageous claims on their behalf, and flagged them as #gamblingindustrylies.
A bit of harmless fun, and soon enough a number of other people joined in. Poker machines were high in fibre and good for your health; poker machines cured cancer; that kind of thing. Nothing serious. One claim that I posted was as follows:
A little more pointed, but still a light-hearted jape. Or so I thought.
Enter Senator Corey Bernardi. The Senator was speaking at an RSL conference this week in Tweed Heads, and I think he got a little carried away. How else can you explain this?
That’s right. Mandatory pre-commitment is a threat to the industry, and needs to be stopped “on the principles that our diggers and the people who have served our country well over generations past fought for, and that is the principle of freedom.”
Ye gods. I’ve often thought that our troops of years gone by would look at today’s RSLs and sadly shake their heads at what they have become. Bernardi has no such illusions. In his narrow little world, Australian men and women fought and died so that we would have the freedom to gamble without restriction.
However, Bernardi didn’t stop there. Having revealed mandatory pre-commitment as the evil scourge that it so obviously must be, he then revealed what he thought was the best way to stamp out problem gambling. That’s right: he thinks cutting welfare to problem gamblers would take care of it.
Uh huh. Forget addressing the addictive nature of gaming machines. Forget addressing the reasons why people gamble to excess. Forget support and counselling and education and all that other rot. Cut off their welfare payments, and it’s problem solved!
The article reporting Bernardi’s comments can be found here.
Senator Bernardi, you are an embarrassment to this country and to the public that elected you.