The Prime Minister must consider urgent changes to his Ministerial Code of Conduct in the wake of more revelations that gambling industry paid for lavish hospitality of Communication’s Minister, Michelle Rowland.
Minister Rowland has key responsibilities for policing gambling advertising and is currently deliberating on the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling that has proposed a three-year phased-in ban on all gambling advertising.
The CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said reports that Responsible Wagering Australia – which represents Sportsbet, Ladbrokes, and Bet365 – paid for ‘a lavish lunch’ for Minister Rowland on 16 November 2022 at Melbourne’s Society Restaurant were a sign the current Ministerial Code was not working.
“Prime Minister Albanese’s Ministerial Code of Conduct must now ban gambling freebies for politicians, regulators, and policy makers, and not just disclose them. The community need to have confidence the government and its decision making is not being captured by the gambling lobby,” Ms Bennett said.
“And it is now time for the government to show that all the money and largesse of the gambling industry cannot buy decisions in Canberra, by accepting the recommendations of the independent parliamentary inquiry into online gambling including the recommendation to ban gambling advertising.”
“There is no reason for the government to wait any longer. They can show they act in the public interest rather than the gambling industry interests by adopting all of the recommendations of this thorough and evidence-led parliamentary inquiry.”
Minister Rowland, herself said the public ‘expected better’ after revelations that she received $19,000 in donations from Sportsbet on the eve of last year’s federal election, including an $8960 dinner at Sydney’s Rockpool.
Ms Bennett acknowledged that the birthday lunch happened prior to the Sportsbet funding revelations. But she said if the government didn’t act on all the online gambling inquiry recommendations, the public would rightly question whether Minister Rowland and the government had been captured by the gambling industry.
The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of preventing harm from gambling
Carol Bennett is available for interview.
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704