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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Senator Xenophon's FOI message: fair roll of the dice!!

"Independent Senator for SA Nick Xenophon has slammed the Government for its pathetic response to his Freedom of Information Request relating to the cost of converting poker machines to be maximum $1 bet capable.The Government charged Senator Xenophon $465 for 34 pages of documents, with huge slabs of potentially critical information blacked out. (The documents can be provided on request from Nick’s office – at no charge).“If this wasn’t such a serious issue it would be laughable. They might as well have just sent me 34 pieces of blank paper,” Nick said.Senator Xenophon sought access under the Freedom of Information Act to documents relating to the work done by the Department on the cost of implementing the $1 bet scheme with $120 an hour losses – as recommended by the Productivity Commission.Senator Xenophon made the request after the Government repeatedly claimed it would cost $1.5 billion to make poker machines $1 maximum bet ready.“The Australia Institute has already analysed the costs as being in the order of $200million over a number of years. Given problem gamblers lose $5 billion a year on pokies, that’s chicken feed. Instead the Government’s given me a load of chicken poo.”“It seems the Government has plucked the figure out its head.”“This is a serious matter of critical importance to public policy that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians who are deeply damaged by poker machine addiction.”Senator Xenophon will lodge an appeal under the public interest provisions of the FOI Act for the release of the blacked out information and other documents which the Department has refused to release.“What has the Government got to hide?” Nick asked. “And why will their watered down draft legislation only allow for machines to be mandatory pre-commitment ready, not $1 bet ready as well? It’s absolutely absurd.”
We here love to see reasons given as to why this sort of disclosure would be the end of the world as we know it, Senator.

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