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Liberals’ ‘Free Beer’ Arrangement with THA Doesn’t Pass the Pub Test

24 Nov 2017

Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens' Gambling spokesperson 

The future of Federals Hotels' gambling monopoly Deed will be decided in the next term of Parliament.  Poker machines will be an election issue because the vast majority of voters want them out of pubs and clubs, and this election is the first time in almost fifty years that Tasmanians will have a direct say in the future of gambling in this State.

The Liberals' arrangement with the Tasmanian Hospitality Association members funding their 'Pub Test' pre-election forums is wrong on so many levels.

The THA’s general manager, Steve Old, has become a vocal cheerleader and lobbyist for Federal Hotels and keeping pokies in pubs and clubs.  Mr Old has teamed up with former Premier and current Federal Hotels’ lobbyist, Paul Lennon, in an attempt to strengthen the ties pokies have to the community by promoting individual licenses.

There are serious questions that need answers about why the Liberals are letting the THA pay for free drinks with voters, and whether they will declare the financial benefit as an electoral donation.

Preliminary legal advice suggests that a third party supplying free alcohol to such a forum is breach Electoral Act, and we understand that Electoral Commission is investigating.

Federal Hotels and the Hospitality Association have handed over tens of thousands over the years to the Liberal and Labor parties, and now they are pouring the beer. Whether or not it is found to be in breach electoral laws, this arrangement between the Liberals and the THA stinks and it doesn’t pass the pub test.

80% of Tasmanians support the significant reduction in pokies in pubs and clubs because of the enormous social harm they cause in the community. Not only is his arrangement with the THA immoral and possibly in breach of the Electoral Act, we question whether the Premier has also completely lost touch with the people he was elected to serve.