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Australia's Politicians Criticize Gambling Industry

7 May 2004

AUSTRALIA – As reported by the Financial Times: "It was prevalent from the time of the First Fleet, which brought Australia its first European settlers, and without it the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge might never have been built.

"Yet Australia's powerful gambling industry, one of the largest in the world, is under assault as never before. It has been put on notice by a new generation of political leaders and is being attacked by an increasingly broad cross-section of society.

"Both Mark Latham, leader of the opposition Labor party, and Peter Costello, heir apparent to prime minister John Howard as head of the Liberal party, have signalled a firmer approach to tackling what has become one of Australia's biggest social problems

"…Mr Latham and Mr Costello have pledged to tackle the state governments' 'addiction to gambling revenues' and to find ways to reduce their dependence on the industry.

"Gambling in Australia, however, is more firmly entrenched in popular culture than in many other societies, says Jan McMillen, head of the Centre for Gambling Research at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

"…Anti-gambling campaigners say the federal government has a limited ability to regulate the sector, which is a state responsibility. Many pubs and clubs in remote communities would not survive without gaming…"

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