SA-BEST accuses poker machine barons of “buying” 2018 state election result

1 February 2019

SA-BEST today accused South Australia’s powerful poker machine barons of “buying” the 2018 state election result. 

SA-BEST MLC and Attorney General spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said details of political donations released today by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) confirm what her fledgling party has always suspected.

According to figures released from the AEC covering the 2017-18 financial year, the influential Australian Hotels Association of SA donated nearly $325,000 to the SA Liberal Party, the SA ALP and the Australian Conservatives.

“Every South Australian should be incensed by these figures,” Connie said.

“It proves beyond any doubt the power and influence these poker machine barons have over the major political parties,” she said.

“They stand accused of buying last year's state election result with their fat cheque books.

“These powerful lobby groups don’t donate hundreds of thousands of dollars for no reason – they want favours in return.

“SA-BEST felt the full wrath of this influence during the state election.

“Both major parties – flushed with funds thanks to a group of wealthy hoteliers – aimed their venom at us, and not each other, because we had a policy to reduce the scourge of pokie addiction in this state.”

Connie said SA-BEST “unequivocally” supports a call today by the Alliance for Gambling Reform for a complete ban on political donations by licenced gambling operators – prompted by the latest AEC figures.

The Alliance said the figures showed “blatant industry funding to manipulate state election outcomes in Tasmania and South Australia.”

Alliance director, Tim Costello, said Australia would not begin to tackle “our world’s worst levels of gambling harm” until political funding by licenced gambling operators was banned.

He said Australians lost $24 billion on legal gambling in 2016-17, with an estimated additional $2 billion lost to illegal gambling.

“What happened in Tasmania and South Australia in early 2018 was nothing short of disgraceful and now that we’ve seen the size of the pokies money that was poured into those campaigns, we need Labor and Liberal to agree to a complete ban on gambling donations similar to what they have done with tobacco,” Tim Costello said.

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