Gambling reform was an expectedly contentious topic at a candidate’s forum in the ultra marginal seat held by Opposition Leader, Chris Minns, with one candidate ‘begging’ Labor to expand their poker machine policy.
On Thursday evening, the Labor Leader was joined by Kogarah candidates Craig Chung (Liberal), Tracy Yuen (Greens) and Troy Stolz (Independent).
The south Sydney seat sits on an ultra slim margin of 0.1 per cent, with a handful of votes likely to decide the winner. Mr Minns has also rebuffed suggestions of running in another seat, or running in the Upper House if he fails to retain his seat.
Chris Minns was asked about Labor’s gambling reform policies at a Kogarah candidates forum on Thursday night. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard
Before the debate started, some attendees didn’t want to enter Kogarah’s St Paul’s Anglican Church, saying it was a place of worship, not a place for political debate.
Poker machine reform was an early point of contention, with candidates asked “what their party would do to address the epidemic of gambling harm in NSW”.
Mr Stolz, who arrived at the forum with a sign that accused Labor of “blocking pokies reform,” called on Mr Minns to follow the Coalition’s policy which pledge to make all poker machines in NSW cashless by 2028.
“I think Chris is a decent person and I support the Labor values but on this very issue, I think Labor has gone missing and Chris has too,” he said.
“This is an issue that needs to be addressed now, not kicked down the road.
“I beg Chris Minns to take a bipartisan approach with Dominic Perrottet on this issue, and then I can go home and mow my lawns.”
Troy Stolz called on Chris Minns to follow the Coalition’s promise to implement cashless technology on all poker machines. Picture: NewsWire
However, Mr Minns maintained a trial was needed to ensure cashless technology didn’t “exacerbate losses”.
“We will do a trial on 500 machines across NSW and if the technology proves that it works, we’ll fully implement it.”
Mr Chung also gave an impassioned speech supporting a full-scale rollout of cashless gambling, and spoke about the “human tragedy” of problem gambling.
“I see this as a fairly simple choice: a government who’s anti-crime, pro-community and a government and opposition who won’t commit the Crime Commission’s number one recommendation –that is cashless gaming,” he said.
While candidates were asked questions about rights for religious schools to hire teachers of the same faith, the cost of toll roads, teacher shortages, Mr Stolz focused his answers on the high salaries of gambling executives and the impact of harmful gambling.