my response to alan jones

There are rallies being held across New South Wales at the moment, in registered clubs across the state, defending poker machines and rejecting the Federal Government’s proposed pokie reforms.

Fair enough. Misguided sure, but that’s their right.

And attending every one of these rallies is that stalwart purveyor of all that is good, that shining light of the masses, that all-round underpants-on-the-outside good guy Alan Jones. No, of course he’s not attending in person; that would tax even someone as magnificent as Alan. But what he has done, out of the selfless goodness of his heart, is record a video message of support, which is played at every rally.

What a guy.

I’m a little confused though. For a message of support, it seems awfully close to an exercise in product placement. Not only is Alan standing in front of a massive 2GB backdrop (just in case you didn’t know where he worked) but at one point, he urges viewers to participate in talkback radio. Oh Alan, you just can’t resist a plug can you?

Still, as a video personality Alan does great radio… which is not saying much. Clubs NSW have very kindly put Alan’s video on YouTube, so I’ve added it here for your viewing pleasure and general hilarity. It really is pretty funny.

But just in case you can’t follow along (Alan has a tendency to ramble once he gets going, poor fellow), I’ve included the transcript of his 5 minute 46 second message… and I’ve also included my thoughts in response.

Hello, I’m Alan Jones.

Hello Alan.

Look, I’m sorry I can’t be with you today in your protest against this absolutely braindead technology that the so-called Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie calls Mandatory Pre-Commitment in relation to poker machine gambling.

Wow, strong start. Nothing “so-called” about Wilkie, he really is an elected Independent MP. And he doesn’t call the technology “mandatory pre-commitment”; that’s actually what it is. I could say “this thing with wheels and seats and an engine that Alan Jones calls a car” and be making a similar point.

And “brain-dead”? Do you understand the technology Alan? Oh sorry, I forgot you don’t do technology. Too much science.

Mind you Mr Wilkie is in the Federal Parliament with the support of about 14,000 votes; I’m not sure he’s got a mandate for anything. And I can’t recall at any point prior to the last election this nonsense about poker machine tax even being mentioned.

That’s the beauty of this nation’s electoral system, Alan. Preferences make sure every vote counts. Wilkie won his seat; shame more of your Liberal buddies didn’t do the same. And Wilkie made poker machine reform an integral part of his election campaign from the outset. Not that you’d know, of course, you seem incapable of comprehending a world beyond the NSW border.

But hang on a minute… a poker machine tax? No one is mentioning a poker machine tax. Not the government, not the press, not even the industry… just you, Alan. Just you.

But, Julia Gillard of course will do anything to stay in power; this apparently is a way of keeping this madman Wilkie on side.

Oh, so Wilkie’s a madman now? Is that your medicial opinion? Whoops, sorry… science again. Alan, show me a leader of either of the major parties from the past few decades who WOULDN’T do anything to get to, and stay in, the Lodge. Funny too that Tony Abbott also agreed to Wilkie’s demands… but was seen by Wilkie as not being trustworthy enough, and too willing to splash the cash around.

Last September Julia Gillard stupidly agreed to a list of demands from this half-wit Andrew Wilkie, most of which she didn’t really understand. And now Wilkie is threatening to call an election if she doesn’t deliver. There’s no way Wilkie wants an election; he’d be wiped out if one were held.

From madman to half-wit. Maybe he’s only half-mad? Hmm. Alan, explain to me how you know so much about Julia Gillard’s levels of comprehension. You certainly don’t seem inclined to engage her in civil intellectual debate. No matter how much you try and portray her as a stupid woman, stupid is one thing she’s not.

Ah yes, the threat of election. Alan, surely you know that Wilkie made his position clear from day one. He’s not “now” threatening to “call an election;” I’m not sure he has the power to actually call an election. But his support is, and has always been, conditional on the reforms. Nothing new there.

Alan, you disappoint me. You know as well as I that Andrew Wilkie would walk into another election without hesitation. He has said as much, repeatedly. That’s what worries you about him, he won’t compromise to save his job. It’s a position you simply can’t comprehend.

But the real issue here is that Wilkie and Julia Gillard are now threatening your industry; threatening the 260,000 people who work in clubs and hotels, threatening junior football teams, threatening charities that receive so much support from clubs, threatening the live music industry, threatening athletes who are supported at the Institute of Sport to the tune of a million dollars a year by Clubs NSW. Threatening common sense.

Oh, silly me. I thought the real issue here was the quarter of a million moderate-to-severe poker machine addicts in this country, making up almost half of all regular poker machine players. I thought the real issue was the harm they cause themselves and others, upwards of two million others.

Alan, what do junior sports and charities do in those parts of the country that don’t have poker machines? Care to hazard a guess? These things don’t survive because of clubs; clubs exist to support them. Or at least, they should.

And Alan, are you really trying to say that clubs, and therefore poker machines, are responsible for the health of the live music industry? Oh Alan. The music industry hates poker machines. Industry legend Renee Geyer recently said in a newspaper interview that she hates playing venues with poker machines. Don’t try and link pokies with live music, that really is breathtakingly stupid.

People have asked me if the Prime Minister can break her promise not to introduce a carbon tax, why can’t she break her agreement with Andrew Wilkie? Well of course, the difference is if Julia breaks her promise to Wilkie, she might have to get out of the Lodge. She might have to face up to the Australian people, and she’d get smashed.

Oh very good, sneak in a carbon tax reference. Alan, are you seriously criticising the Prime Minister for keeping a promise?

So of course, self-interest is coming first here, for Julia Gillard. You interests don’t count. My message to you is to stick to your guns. You’ve got the attention of the national parliament, and the national media. Yet again Julia Gillard threatened to introduce legislation for which she has no mandate. There wasn’t even the remotest mention of this at the last election.

It’s a little rich to be talking about self-interest Alan, when your 2GB boss runs a number of pubs with poker machines. When your success in radio depends on a flourishing club industry to give you air.

And again, Alan, Wilkie campaigned on poker machine reform. As you know. And most of the national media thinks the pro-pokie campaign is a joke; it’s only in NSW that it gets any serious attention.

Write to people like me, write to your local MP, write to the media, ring talkback radio, write letters to the editors of newspapers, but write to Julia Gillard, Parliament House, Canberra. Bombard them with correspondence. Thankfully the New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell knows mandatory pre-commitment is ridiculous. That’s why he’s publicly backed you in your fight with Wilkie and the Prime Minister. Indeed, he says he’ll back you all the way to the high court if that’s what it takes. So you’ve got powerful support. You need to keep morale up, keep talking to staff, keep believing in the good work that you do.

Ah yes. Ring talkback radio. Plug plug plug. That would be 2GB, right Alan? And there’s a number of reasons why O’Farrell is backing the clubs in this. Firstly, because Federal Labor are driving the reform process; O’Farrell is playing politics. But more importantly, because he signed on the line and sold his soul to the clubs prior to the last election. He signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Clubs NSW promising to look after them. He is compromised.

There are some dumbbells running this country but against that, most government MPs do value what clubs contribute to the economy and to the community. But of course Julia Gillard values her own political existence more than anything else. She values life at the Lodge more than she values the work that you do in the clubs and hotel industry and are doing for the community.

Alan. You’re repeating yourself.

This so-called Licence to Gamble isn’t going to help problem gamblers. Only a complete fool could think that, and think that that was the best way to help a problem gambler. Give him a gambling card and then ask him to set a safe bet limit, its laughable. Worse than that, no limit at all. I feel stupid just saying all this; imagine a government actually promoting or believing such rubbish. As Clubs Australia has been saying, until they’re blue in the face, the only way to help problem gamblers is to get them good counselling, and help them stop gambling.

Oh ho! The “so-called” “licence to gamble”. Alan, guess who’s calling it that? The clubs industry. They coined the expression, to try and prejudice people against the concept. Because, you see, it’s NOT a licence to gamble, and it is not intended to allow problem gamblers to continue to gamble safely. It is the poker machine equivalent of a seatbelt, intended to prevent the development of problem gambling behaviours.

Of course poker machine addicts shouldn’t gamble Alan. But that’s the nature of addiction; sometimes you can’t help yourself. And when that happens, gee it would be nice to have an additional safety measure in place, wouldn’t it? That way a relapse could only cost $50 or $100, rather than thousands of dollars.

And Alan, let’s not forget Recommendation 36. That’s the recommendation that talks about $1 poker machines, with no pre-commitment card required.

Ultimately, Alan, the best way to tackle problem gambling is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. No one seeks counselling until a problem already exists; mandatory pre-commitment and low-intensity poker machines will go a long way to ensuring that fewer people in future develop poker machine addictions at all.

Andrew Wilkie didn’t have the intelligence to ask Julia Gillard for even one cent towards counselling, or one cent towards education, or one cent towards better staff training. No, all Wilkie wants from Prime Minister Gillard is to slug clubs with technology that’s so expensive and so invasive that clubs won’t be able to afford it and people won’t play poker machines anyway. The technology, if you can even call it that, will cost three billion just to install.

Alan, all these things you mention… counselling, education, training… are all already being funded at the state level. As you know. They already exist, they didn’t need Andrew Wilkie to champion them. Surely you have the intelligence to realise that?

And once again Alan: it is undeniably technology. I know that does your head in, but please try and deal with it.

What Wilkie doesn’t understand or more likely doesn’t care about, and certainly Julia Gillard doesn’t have a clue about, are the thousands of charities and community groups and sporting groups who survive only because of the generosity of clubs. Who’s going to donate $200,000 to the surf life saving club at Maroubra? Who’s going to donate two and a half million to local sport in Queanbeyan? Who’s going to donate $30,000 to the Armadale Oncology Unit? What happens when the local club is gone? The social repercussions of mandatory pre-commitment are enormous. How can they not be, when over the past 100 years governments have supported clubs in becoming the backbone of local communities.

Wilkie doesn’t care and Gillard doesn’t have a clue. Oh those evil, evil politicians! Alan, these reforms are about poker machines! It is not a vendetta against the clubs, even though you, Anthony Ball, Peter Newell et al seem intent on making it appear so. Are you saying that it’s ok to allow problem gamblers to continue to spend huge amounts of money, as long as a fractions of that money goes to charity?

Are you saying the end justifies the means, Alan?

Now, one Independent MP who’s got 14,000 votes in Tasmania, and 72 gutless Labor Mps, are content to break the community’s back. Well between us, it can’t happen; you can’t let it happen. Make your voice be heard. It only takes 100 voices to create a roar, and there are 10 million club members across our country. That’s more than enough for every Labor politician in the country to hear you, to hear me, and to wake up.

My my, Alan, you’re almost waxing lyrical! A hundred voices to create a roar… ooh, chilling. Alan, how many of your 10 million club members are children? How many cases are there of people holding multiple memberships and being counted multiple times? I reject your figures; here are some other ones. Two thirds of people surveyed in Tony Windsor’s electorate supported the poker machine reforms, and that was AFTER the clubs roadshow swept through town. Now reflect that across the country, and your roar is sounding more like a nervous squeak.

Believe in the goodness of what you do. Back it with an act of commitment to making sure that the Wilkies and the Gillards of this world don’t prevail. And as I say over and over again to Julia Gillard, and I say also to Mr Wilkie, go away. Get out of our lives, we’ve heard you, we don’t like you, we don’t like what you say; leave us alone and go away. To you people I say, keep doing wonderful work, keep up the morale; remember what I say many times about Edward Paul Abbey, the author and essayist who once said, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” Well, that defence has begun in earnest against Julia Gillard, Wilkie and this wretched government. With every effort that’s available to us, we must continue the defence of your business, your job, and your country.

Will you fight them on the beaches, Alan? Fight them on land? Stirring stuff! And I’m impressed at how close you get, with your talk of patriotism, and defending your country… yet you never quite mentioned that nasty phrase, “un-Australian”.

But that’s what you’re saying, isn’t it Alan? Be patriotic, defend your country… defend your poker machines. It’s your duty. What a load of drivel.

I’m Alan Jones.

What you are is an embarrassment, fast moving beyond caricature and into the realms of irrelevance. You’re done.

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6 Responses

  1. Douglas says:

    He’s just a Liberal Party operative.

  2. Tim Falkiner says:

    It doesn’t look good. But I still cannot believe Alan Jones would support cheating. I do not believe he knows about the starved reel cheating technique.

  3. cyenne says:

    Tim, Alan Jones has built his career on ignoring the facts and pursuing an agenda. I don’t believe he would care if it were proven that poker machines operate dishonestly; he’s a clubs man through and through, and believes personal responsibility absolves industry/government from the need to do the right thing.

  4. Braveheart says:

    Alan Jones has so much of a media ‘persona’ that it is hard to get a sense of the real man. He is obviously one of the Sydney shock jocks and his record for balance is not good.

    I feel deeply concerned about the current situation with Craig Thomson in Canberra. How could Labor have allowed a man with a such a doubtful history even stand for election?

    Apparently the allegations were known before he stood for Parliament. If he goes (as it seems he might) that probably spells the end of the gambling reforms.

    I know the Opposition has had similar issues but they are not in the public mind. I shake my head in disappointment.

  5. cyenne says:

    The Thomson situation isn’t cut and dried. Regardless of his actions or his character, any police investigation will take time… the suggestion is that it could take a very long time.

    And the police won’t care if he acted unethically. Their only interest will be in the legality of his actions.

  6. Braveheart says:

    Yes, I listened to Richard Marles on the ABC today and have read the Age commentaries. The opposition is behaving really badly about this purely because they want power.

    Thomson does have the right to presumption of innocence. Trouble is, once you are named in the media you are pretty much marked for ever. Nasty stuff.

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