The Liberal candidate vying to replace senior minister Rob Stokes in Pittwater at the state election has defended voting against a gambling harm minimisation policy as a councillor, insisting he supported pokies reform and the push for cashless gaming.
Rory Amon was one of six Northern Beaches councillors in 2018 to vote against the plan to reduce poker machine harm across the area, where punters lost $48 million on pokies in the final six months of that year. The policy sought to encourage venues to restrict cash-outs at ATMs, slow and reduce playing time and extend self-exclusion laws to family members or another third party. Council received 191 submissions about the plan; 131 in support and 60 against.
Jacqui Scruby, who has commended Stokes for his rhetoric on gambling, is campaigning for compulsory cashless gaming with $100 daily limits, $1 maximum bets per spin and accelerated removal of machines. She has also called for a ban on pokies in venues between 4am and 10am.
The independent said she was disappointed Amon had voted against any plan that sought to reduce problem gambling.
Scruby said, as an independent, she would contribute to making good policy, better.
“Independents play an important role in leading debate and pushing for progressive reform in areas the other parties don’t touch to the extent that they should, notwithstanding whether they have the balance of power.”
Poker machine profits on the northern beaches have continued to soar in the past five years, with Liquor and Gaming NSW revealing punters lost more than $38 million in less than 100 days last year.
Across NSW more than $2.1 billion was lost to poker machines in the same period between July and September, which advocates say reinforces the mandate for Perrottet’s election promise to turn gaming machines cashless.