Labor sticking with pokies ban

The Tasmanian Labor leader, Rebecca White, insists her party will not resile from its promise to phase out pokies from pubs and clubs after weathering a fierce campaign and some internal backlash at the state election.

Labor needed six more seats to win back government on Saturday and only picked up three, but White said true believers could hold their heads up high.

“We have been the only party in this election campaign that has won seats in the parliament, every other party has lost seats this election campaign,” she told reporters in New Norfolk on Sunday.

White insisted she would stay on in the job without a leadership ballot, having received a promise from re-elected former Labor minister David O’Byrne that he would not mount a challenge.

The Labor leader would not say whether she would offer O’Byrne a shadow ministry.

“It’ll be another 10 days before we know the makeup of our team and indeed the makeup of the parliament so I’m not going to speculate on who has what portfolios,” White said.

Asked about O’Byrne “running a mile” from Labor’s pokies policy on polling night, and other candidates receiving feedback the party’s stance was too strong, Ms White said her team was “100%” behind the proposal.

“I know, and the Labor party knows, that our decision to take this issue to this election was the right thing to do for the health of our communities and for the economy of Tasmania,” White said.

Pressed on whether pokies had cost Labor the election, White said her team had come up against the biggest spending campaign in Tasmanian history, but would not be frightened into backing down.

The future of poker machines was now in the hands of the Tasmanian parliament, she said.

“I know that the Labor party’s position is not going to change on this, we remain firm on our view that poker machines should be restricted to casinos,” White said.

“The Liberal party now have a very big job ahead of them to convince both the lower and the upper house that putting this deal out to all of the publicans as a direct licence model is in the best interests of the Tasmanian people.”

White copped criticism for not congratulating the premier, Will Hodgman, in her concession speech on Saturday night, but called him later on to apologise.

“It was an oversight not to do that last night, and I have apologised to him about that, because it certainly was never my intention to do that,” she said. “I was very caught up in the moment congratulating the fantastic campaign that was run by our people.”

Labor appears to have taken more votes off the Greens than the Liberals, indicating there is still plenty of work to do winning back voters who deserted the party in 2014 following a deeply divisive Labor-Green accord.

White’s personal vote was also lower than most expected. She polled 1.43 quotas in the sprawling rural seat of Lyons, after traversing the state in a five-week presidential-style campaign.

Labor will analyse the results in time and see where they can improve. “I think it’s a little bit too early to start the post mortem,” White said.

The opposition is expected to end up with 10 or 11 seats, while the Liberal party will hold onto majority government with at least 13 seats.

 

Original Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/04/labor-sticking-with-pokies-ban-despite-tasmania-election-loss-rebecca-white-says

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