The gambling industry hires the most lobbying firms across Australia, more than double that of any other harmful product industry according to new analysis of the Federal lobbyist register.
It reveals that the gambling industry has access to up to 280 lobbyists seeking to influence our Federal political leaders.
Federal Ministers, senior advisors and even one Premier work in lobbying roles for the gambling sector.
“The revelations that gambling interests are spending big on lobbyists, together with the enormous growth in political donations by ‘big gambling’ is alarming given that the Federal Government is currently considering a parliamentary committee recommendation to phase out all gambling advertising over the next three years,” the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said.
“The opaqueness of the current system means the public can have no confidence that our political leaders are not being subject to undue influence from a ruthless and exploitative gambling industry that rips out $25 billion from Australian communities each year.”
The CEO of Transparency International Australia (TIA), Clancy Moore, said the research highlighted the need for end the secrecy of Australia’s lobbying regime and stop the revolving door.
“Every day, harmful industries like gambling employ thousands of lobbyists to walk the halls of parliament meeting with Ministers and public servants under the cover the of darkness to influence policy making often against the public interest.
“The fact that many former Ministers and advisors go straight into jobs for the gambling lobby has a corrosive impact on our democracy” he said.
Both TIA and the Alliance support a bill by Independent MP for Kooyong, Dr Monique Ryan that would require all lobbyists to be registered and to comply with higher standards of conduct. It would also require governments to reveal what engagement they have had with lobbyists such as making public ministerial diaries.
The analysis found:
Federally, the gambling industry hired 13 lobbying firms across all States and the ACT
That compared with alcohol and the food and drink industry that each hired 6 firms and tobacco that hired 4 firms
It is estimated the 13 lobbying firms provided the gambling industry access to up to 280 individual lobbyists.
Lobbyists that are registered are subject only to a voluntary code of conduct and there is often no penalty for breaches. Many other lobbyists are not required to be registered.
Information is scant and reveals little to the public about what is going on behind closed doors.
Carol Bennett and Clancy Moore are available for interview.
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
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704