The Australian Hotels Association imposed a one-off levy on pub poker machines to help bankroll both major parties and allegedly stymie the Greens ahead of November’s Victorian election.
The Sydney Morning Herald claims the association worked with pubs and clubs to raise almost $1 million in donations, which also funded independents who preferenced the major parties, in an attempt to deny the Greens the balance of power in the state parliament.
The revelation follows the reporting of the association’s NSW branch to the state Electoral Commission over alleged anti-Greens push-polling in the lead up to last week’s NSW elections.
And it follows the publishing of latest Commonwealth donations data showing that during the March 2017 Tasmanian election, which Labor fought on a strong anti-gambling ticket, the AHA made several last-minute donations to the victorious Liberal Party.The newspaper claims the gaming industry feared the Greens winning the balance of power across state parliaments because of the party’s strong anti-pokies policies, including in Victoria the phasing out of poker machines from pubs and clubs and introduction of $1 maximum bets.
Labor secured victory in the Victorian election while the Greens lost four out of five Upper House seats.
The AHA is the leading lobby group for pubs, hospitality and gaming, with members including the ALH group, Australia’s biggest poker machine venue operator, and the Crown Resorts gaming and entertainment group.
Victorians lost almost $2.7 billion on poker machines in the last financial year, the highest figure in a decade, with gamblers in some of the state’s most disadvantaged communities losing the most money.
Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said the anti-Greens campaign would not alter the party’s stance on gambling.
“We’ll continue to pursue what is best for the community and not be influenced by big corporations that try to throw their weight around and influence election outcomes,” she told the Herald.
AHA Victorian CEO Paddy O’Sullivan was approached for comment, but did not reply by time of publication. He earlier told the Herald the AHA worked closely with “both sides of the political divide” and with those who showed a “willingness to consult”.
Labor’s new electoral laws now cap donations at $4000 over each four-year parliamentary period. The rules came into effect on 25 November, the day after the election.