How to Shape Responses – the Pokie Campaign

I have continued to read the Poker Machine Reform issue with interest, especially the articles on the issue composed by the Political Editor of all of the News Limited City Sunday papers, The Australian alumnus Samantha Maiden. I will attempt to address with this blog how her work could be rephrased to reflect the context of the statements by Clubs Australia.  This is where the original article came from – and here is the headline:

Clubs Australia offering to trial betting limits on pokie machiens in select pubs to prove reforms will not work

Samantha Maiden, National Political Editor From:The Sunday Mail (Qld) October 09

This could be rewritten – the headline sounds a bit like the Clubs Australia mantra “Won’t Work, Will Hurt” – perhaps this:

Clubs’ Lobbying Organisation Changes Position In Terms of Precommitment Trial

Continuing on, the original article will be in italic text, while my suggestions are in plain.

BETTING limits on poker machines could be trialled in selected pubs and clubs after the industry offered to fast-track negotiations to prove the reforms will not work.

This could be rewritten as: “Precommitment Technology in poker machines may now be trialled in selected pubs and clubs after the industry changed its position in terms of such a trial”. Because that is the case – rather than the line that again sounds like the Clubs Australia slogan.

In an apparent olive branch to the Government, Clubs Australia has written to Families Minister Jenny Macklin offering to help organise a trial of mandatory pre-commitment technology.

I would suggest this is a different way of expressing it: “Clubs Australia have changed in their opposition to a trial of the technology to Families Minister Jenny Macklin, offering to now help organise that trial, in a move calculated to prove their point that such technology is flawed”.

But its offer comes with a multimillion-dollar price tag with taxpayers to foot the bill for clubs to install the technology for the trial.

This is a line designed to encourage readers to be outraged about the “waste of taxpayer money”. I would suggest this as a different way – “This change, however, would require the government to fund such a trial.”

The Sunday Mail understands Clubs Australia has given a written undertaking to Ms Macklin to find locations and is working on a trial in Canberra, Tasmania or a third, undisclosed location.

“A proper trial of mandatory pre-commitment is the only way of showing whether or not the technology can help problem gamblers, and the other effects it will have in the community and on the industry,” Clubs Australia CEO Anthony Ball said.

“Andrew Willkie’s experimental technology should be subject to testing and examination before billions are spent and permanent damage is done.”

A change in perspective on this quotation may be: “A press release from Clubs Australia CEO, Anthony Ball explains this change in position, stating ‘that a proper trial of mandatory pre-commitment is the only way of showing whether or not the technology can help problem gamblers’,  adding their continuing attempt to characterise the technology as a risk – ‘Andrew Wilkie’s experimental technology should be subject to testing and examination before billions are spent and permanent damage is done’.”

The move follows secret talks between clubs and the Gillard Government who remain at loggerheads over the reforms.

Secret talks! More like “this change appears to have come as a result of continuing negotiations between Clubs Australia and the Federal Government”.

Regardless of the outcome of the trials, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie will demand the Prime Minister enact the betting limits, threatening to bring down the Government if she doesn’t deliver.

“Nothing has changed. From the very start, I have supported the Productivity Commission’s recommendation of a trial. This trial would, of course, be of specific technical solutions in light of the fact that the value of mandatory pre-commitment has been well established,” Mr Wilkie said yesterday.

This part is fairly innocuous.

A trial would assess how a mandatory pre-commitment system would impact on both recreational players and problem gamblers.

These features could then be modified in the final arrangements from 2014 and would consider rules for punter registration, betting limits and default settings for the length of time gamblers would be excluded after they reached their limit.

Ms Macklin said the Government remained interested in a trial to help “shape the final features and technical details of the mandatory pre-commitment system to be implemented in 2014”.

“But a trial requires the co-operation of all venues, and the state or territory government, in a region or state,” Ms Macklin said.

The Canberra trial may extend to Queanbeyan, NSW, if agreement can be reached to ensure gamblers don’t simply cross the border to avoid having to register to play high-intensity machines.

Conducting a trial of the technology was a key recommendation of the Productivity Commission report into gambling reform, but has not been delivered to date due the problem of getting states, industry and Federal Government agreement in a jurisdiction that will not allow gamblers to simply go to the next suburb.

Clubs ACT CEO Jeff House said that, as long as the Government paid for the technology that was to be trialled, he was happy to participate.

“It’s a genuine offer and we hope the commonwealth takes it up,” he said.

The Tasmanian Government has previously signalled a willingness to trial the technology, but the Federal group, which holds a monopoly licence in the state, would not agree to terms.

The second half of this article is fine.  But, really, in my opinion, the first half needs some reshaping, just like the previous week’s article.  On that, perhaps instead of this:

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard faces a damaging AFL revolt over pokies reforms with club presidents calling crisis talks tomorrow over the changes.

It could have been redone as this : “Concerns about Poker Machine Reforms have been expressed by club presidents within in the AFL and will be discussed as an agenda item in a meeting of AFL Presidents tomorrow”. 

As we know, there was no revolt. Plus, as we know, Clubs Australia will try anything to stop the poker machine pre-commitment technology from being enforced.

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