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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 955

Mr ALDRED(10.10) —In my State of Victoria diverse interests covering a wide spectrum of community and business have expressed their views on poker machines and their legalisation or otherwise. I do not wish to prejudice or pre- empt the current inquiry into this subject by Mr Wilcox, QC. However, it is the pre-emption of the inquiry that concerns me. Let me read a transcript of a conversation that took place on Sunday, 5 May of this year in the driveway of 12 Cole Cresent, Chadstone:

Mr M.: They--

the poker machines-

are coming in and that's it. The casino inquiry was just a red herring.

Mr V.: Look I helped put you and Gerry in and I'll go against you if you're going to do this.

Mr M.: I've done my counting. I'm all right.

Mr V.: What about Gerry Vaughan?

Mr M.: He's all right too-look we are going to make $60 million or $70 million out of this. We need the money and that's it.

Mr V.: How do you know poker machines will go through?

Mr M.: We've got the numbers in the centre and the right will be coming in.

Mr V.: What about the small clubs?

Mr M.: They will just have to join together or something.

This conversation may sound innocent. But let me tell honourable members that ' Mr M.' is Mr Race Mathews, the Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services, a senior Cabinet Minister in the Cain Labor Government. The other individual is a former Australian Labor Party Branch President and an operator of a bingo centre. At a time when Ministers, including the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) make much of ministerial integrity, at a time when Ministers are stood down and at a time when a Victorian Minister is forced to resign we have yet another challenge to the whole integrity of ministerial responsibility. The question of the integrity of the Victorian Minister for Police is not limited to this one conversation. It is the same man-this cut price Whitlam disciple-who claims that he is not influenced by lobby groups and who tells everyone that he researches his speeches and is an independent thinker. Yet it was Mr Mathews who , on 23 March 1982, delivered a speech to the meeting of the Licenced Clubs Association of Victoria outlining ALP policy on poker machines. In that speech Mr Mathews vehemently attacked allegations that the Labor Party was deluded and influenced by the pokie lobby. He said in that speech:

Labor has been deluded by nobody. We are committed to nobody.

Deluded by nobody? Let me now refer to the official transcript of proceedings of the Victorian poker machine inquiry of 7 September during which Mr Vibert, from the pokie lobby, admits that his lobby group misled Mr Mathews. In fact, Mr Mathews' speech, which purported to espouse ALP policy was written by the pokie lobby. As Mr McPhee, QC, told the inquiry:

Mr Race Mathews appears in that speech to have been adopting Dr Holsman's conclusion.

Dr Holsman is a consultant for the pokie lobby. Mr McPhee then went on to say that Mr Mathews would have been one person at least expected to re-evaluate seriously the situation in the light of other people's views. But what did Mr Mathews do? He took the pokie lobby speech and said that it was a sober, factual and economic evaluation of the situation. In fact, Mr Mathews took the pokie handout and smartly added two words: 'ALP policy'. He then wrote his name to it. The Labor Party is a bankrupt party. It is bankrupt of ideas, bankrupt of integrity and bankrupt of honesty.