The Story So Far

ClubsAustralia and the Australian Hotels Association have put their differences aside and joined forces. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take any more.

And just what has got them so riled up? What has offended them so deeply and galvanised them into action?

Poker machine reform. That’s right, the spectre of mandatory pre-commitment for poker machines across this wonderful country has these venerable institutions frothing at the mouth.

Not for themselves, mind you. Never mind that Australia’s clubs and pubs suck $12 billion out of the community every year; never mind that poker machine addicts contribute the lion’s share of this largesse. They oppose these reforms for the common good. For the good of you and me, and every Australian.

You see, according to ClubsAustralia and the Australian Hotels Association, mandatory pre-commitment for poker machines is “un-Australian”. Yes, I thought that was funny too. And therefore, anyone who supports pokie reforms, including mandatory pre-commitment, is also un-Australian.

Now, being un-Australian hit an all time high during the Howard years. Little Johnny was rather fond of the expression, and in the words of Anson Cameron, applied it Liberally to “Striking workers, anti-globalisation protesters, anti-war protesters, bikie gangs, cyclists in lycra, the opposition, feminists, The Chaser, socialists, whistleblowers, leaf-blowers, Peter Costello, Doc Mahathir, Doc Evatt, Doc Holiday, Public Holidays”… the lists seemed endless. Our former PM splashed the term around with a broad brush, but since his somewhat un-Australian departure from the Lodge, un-Australianism has been a little harder to spot.

Thank heavens Anthony Ball, Peter Newell and those other good folk at ClubsAustralia are around to change all that. By pointing out how un-Australian, how un-patriotic it is to hope and fight for pokie reforms, they confirm their status as the protectors of all things Australian. Newell even has an OAM, for god’s sake! How can we doubt his word?

These guys take their responsibility seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they’re willing to spend millions of (their members’) dollars to drive home the message to the Australian public. There will be online ads and newspaper ads; there will be billboards and coasters. There will be a website (which undoubtably will be nowhere near as fun or sexy as this one). There will be a wave of targetted un-Australianism, sweeping across the country and making sure every good little Aussie battler knows what to think.

What. A. Crock.

There’s nothing un-Australian about fighting for what you believe in. Nothing un-Australian about looking out for your mates. Nothing un-Australian about railing against injustice.

But there’s something distinctly un-Australian about hiding behind the veneer of respectability while your organisation continues to rely on the pain and suffering of others for its revenue. And there’s something undeniably un-Australian about protecting said revenue at the expense of other Australians.

Actually, no. Scratch that. It’s not un-Australian; it’s simply dishonest.