We have an odd approach to gambling legislation in Victoria.
Actually, no. “Odd” doesn’t cut it. Bizarre? Misguided? Completely whacked out? Yes, that’s closer.
This morning’s papers are reporting that Victoria’s Bailleau government is seeking to make changes to the Gambling Regulation Act. The Amendment they’re proposing passed the Lower House last week, and will be introduced to the Upper House in a fortnight’s time.
Tighter controls on poker machines? No.
Pre-commitment legislation? Uh uh.
Advertising restrictions and penalties? Yeah, right.
The Amendment that is *this* close to becoming law in Victoria makes it a crime to offend the Gam(bl)ing Minister, Michael O’Brien, and his staff.
Yes, I know. It’s be funny if it wasn’t so incredibly pathetic. No, not you, Minister, the legislation. Grovel grovel.
It will be a criminal offence to “assault, obstruct, hinder, threaten, abuse, insult or intimidate” Mr O’Brien or his people. Much of that list is common sense, but “insult”? Oh wow… I could be in trouble.
And it’s big trouble indeed. The fine that goes with this Amendment has a price tag of almost $12,000.
Run a red light? Hundred bucks or so.
Fare evade? Couple of hundred bucks.
Call Mr O’Brien a twerp (not that I would, of course, he’s a charming man with a rakish wit and a boyish smile)? Sorry kids, we don’t eat this year.
The implications are huge. I won’t get into them here, others are already doing so, including blogger and social conscience extraordinaire Mike Stuchbery. But it’s clear that anyone who wants to call the Gam(bl)ing Minister a nong is going to have to protect themselves.
With that in mind, I have crafted this disclaimer. Feel free to copy it and use it whenever you feel the urge to say rude things about our gam(bl)ing ministry.
I acknowledge that Victorian Gaming Minister Michael O’Brien is a wonderful, wonderful man. Witty, incisive and well-read. Any reference I make about him or his staff (who are similarly endowed with all the traits our society values so highly) which may be construed as derogatory in any way, should be seen as a compliment. He is the kind of man who would kick the winning goal after the siren, in the rain, with a broken leg, from the back pocket; who could win Bathurst in a Prius with the gears stuck in reverse; who could win the Tour de France and then do a victory lap. Chuck Norris fears him. He is a chiselled, handsome, dashing man, and anything I say or write to the contrary are the ravings of a fool and a madman.