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Anti-pokies campaigner in Tasmanian Upper House

Thu, May 16, 5:20pm by Staff Writer

Anti-pokies campaigner Meg Webb has claimed victory in the race for the Tasmanian Upper House seat of Nelson, according to the ABC.

The Legislative Council poll for the division of Nelson was hotly contested, with 10 candidates throwing their hats in the ring to replace outgoing Legislative Council president Jim Wilkinson.

The 10-candidate field meant the Tasmanian Electoral Commission was forced to wait until postal votes had been returned more than a week after the May 4 poll to begin distributing preferences, which began on Tuesday morning.

Despite being in third place throughout the majority of the counting, Ms Webb benefited from the preferences of former Labor MP and independent candidate Madeleine Ogilvie to edge out former Wilderness Society campaign manager Vica Bayley, whose preferences then put her in front to win the seat over Liberal candidate Nic Street.

Ms Webb manages Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre, but has been on unpaid leave during the campaign.

She said she was “very excited” by the result, and thanked her fellow candidates.

“As a first-time candidate and a genuine independent I worked really hard in my very grassroots campaign, and the focus that I had was on connecting with the people of Nelson. I wanted them to get to know me and know what I stood for,” she said.

“I doorknocked over 6300 households and talked to people about the experience I have in my work and my personal life, and I think those connections that I made are what really got me over the line,” she said.

“Talking with people about issues like health, housing affordability, cost of living, access to services, that’s the sort of thing, that’s my focus and the core of my work, and that’s what people found resonated with them too I think.”

Electoral analyst Kevin Bonham previously said the election of a progressive candidate in Nelson could make it difficult for the Hodgman Government to pass legislation deemed conservative.

The left and right sides of the Legislative Council in Tasmania have been fairly evenly split in recent years and Ms Webb’s election means even if a progressive MLC takes on Mr Wilkinson’s role of Legislative Council president, the voting make-up will not be changed in the Government’s favour.

Ms Webb said the result indicates that Tasmanians value independence in the Upper House, and they voted for someone who would hold the Government to account.

“That’s certainly what I intend to do as the member for Nelson.” Ms Webb said.

A major focus of her new role would be to pass a “women’s lens” over legislation.

“I’m very interested in social issues, but more broadly than that, I’m interested in the best interests of the Tasmanian community,” she said.

Ms Webb said she would look particularly closely at legislation on pokies and poker machine reform, and is broadly supportive of legislation on voluntary euthanasia.

Federal Group’s stranglehold in Tassie set to end

The Federal Group’s monopoly on poker machine licenses in Tasmania could soon be over, with the state government expected to table legislation next year to end their reign.

The Examiner is reporting that Tasmanian treasurer Peter Gutwein said the government had recently writer to the Federal Group “to advise them of our intention to end the current exclusivity arrangements through the legislation that will be tabled from early next year to give effect to our policy and put in place a new framework fro 30 June, 2023.”

“By ending the current arrangements through legislation, rather than by notice under the Feed, we will ensure that the industry has the certainty to continue to invest and employ until the new gaming framework is in place for the industry post 2023,” he said.

“The Future Gaming project team was established last year and has been undertaking comprehensive financial analysis of the current industry and the impact of various tax and license settings on industry participants – this work is complex and ongoing.”

“The Government will shortly be engaging with relevant stakeholders as we deliver our commitment.”

The Federal Group arrived in Tasmania in 1968 when the state was struggling with debt.

Greg Farrell Sr, the chairman of the Federal Group ran a public campaign to reassure locals that a casino in Tasmania would be more than a hotel and gaming den and would put Tasmania on the map.

Wrest Point Hotel Casino was opened on 10 February 1973 and was Australia’s first legal casino.

Wrest Point has more than 650 poker machines and 269 hotel rooms.

Under the current government’s policy, from 2023 hotels and clubs would be allowed to hold individual licenses for poker machines.

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