Last week, Julia Gillard listened to Clubs Australia and the few voters out at Rooty Hill RSL rather than do the right thing and fix problem gambling. In her announcement, she used the code word “gaming”, which is industry speak that doesn’t like to be called “gambling”. By using this special phrase, it’s obvious that for-profit gambling is more important to her than the lives of problem gamblers and society’s fabric, particularly those who are close to problem gamblers.
The problem isn’t the little flutters that most of us have from time to time, it’s the problem gamblers who form much of the industry’s profits. The for-profit firms have shown no mercy in their campaign to get rid of gambling reform. They succeeded.
The problem is the ALP now sways in the wind to the tune of vested interests rather than the public good. Whitlam didn’t give up on creating Medicare just because the AMA was against it. Hawke and Keating didn’t give up on monetary reform, such as floating the dollar or removing trade barriers that have made us far richer, just because the unions were against it.
The ALP will be in the wilderness for a very long time after the next election. They can’t rule by themselves for many years because they have given up on traditional ALP values, and abandoned and cast off a good percentage of their party support base to the Greens.
If the ALP wants to govern again, it needs to get some vision aligned with its core values, and do it. Kicking refugees, dropping gambling reform, and working against gay marriage are none of these things. Once Craig Thompson has gone (and although I reckon he will hang on until convicted, he surely will be forced to go), the ALP will feel the full wrath of its core voters.