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Sludge Report 158: Who's Driving the Gambling Bill

In This Edition: Who's Driving the Gambling Bill…

NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging, and occasionally finely balanced. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available. C.D. Sludge can be contacted at sludge@scoop.co.nz. The Sludge Report is available as a free email service..Click HERE - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/myscoop/ to subscribe...

Sludge Report #158

Who's Driving the Gambling Bill…

Apparently not George Hawkins from what Sludge hears around the halls today.

Heather Simpson apparently had a bit of a barney last week with the Green Party envoy responsible for talking about parliamentary process. Sludge understands Heather's manners went AWOL, "ballistic" say some, over the GE issue. It is not known if they got around to discussing the Responsible Gambling Bill which may explain what is now underway in the chamber.

Meanwhile there appears to be a bit of communications black hole in the Beehive on the Gambling Bill in relation to the Labour Party Council situation that was exposed this morning by the Green Party.

The Gambling Bill is now being debated, and includes a couple of "family friendly" amendments like enabling Gambling parlours to use note reading machines – which according to the Greens – were put there on the insistence of the "family friendly" United Future party.

George - currently sitting in the hot seat as Chair of the Cmttee of the house - meanwhile, from what Sludge understands, probably has not that many clues about what is coming his way.

The background to this mess from what Sludge has heard so far is this:

1. Back in 2000 Mark Burton promised a gambling review as Internal Affairs minister;

2. A comprehensive review took place driven by the Department of Internal Affairs.

3. George Hawkins becomes minister of IA.

4. The Responsible Gambling Bill is drafted by DIA.

5. The bill is introduced and referred to the Govt. Admin Cttee with Green Party support.

6. The DIA representative negotiates with the Greens, George takes a back foot, not hands on..

7. The PM states in her address to the house that the Gambling Bill is a priority in 2003.

8. Alarm bells ring around the Greens over what is planned in the bill.

9. They pull they support and say they want TLA's to distribute Pokie proceeds.

10. The DIA representative supported by PM's office (aka Heather Simpson) commence negotiations with United Future.

11. United Future agree but want changes. These are agreed.

12. UF declare these changes a victory – but the Labour Party rank and file, The Labour Council, churches and the Greens see them as a sell-out to the Gambling industry.

13. The Greens revolt.

Watch this space… and tune in to the Blue Star Network if you want to hear the progress of this interesting conumdrum.

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