Thursday, August 30, 2012

Provoking a Response

This week an Upper House committee has been consider changing the law on provocation.

The review was no doubt motivated, at least in part, by the decision of the jury in the case of Singh.
Full story from the Hun
Charmanjot Singh was found not guilty of murder due to provocation. He cut his wife's throat with a box cutter after, he said, she told him she loved another man.

This story, not unreasonably, sparked outrage in the community, and highlighted some of the problems with the law of provocation today.

Let's take an example to explore the issue a bit.

Let's say you're in a pub, and you punch someone in the face. Perhaps you're charges with Assault Occasioning Actual Body Harm (turns out you have a decent punch on you, and you split the guy's lip).

When your matter comes up for sentence, the court will consider all the relevant circumstances - your age, background, criminal record (or lack thereof), whether you plead guilty, any remorse you have shown, and so on.

Let's say, however, that the court is satisfied that you punched this guy because he just said that he would like to rape your sister.

In that case, you could on sentence ask the court to consider provocation as a mitigating factor. Provocation is listed as a mitigating feature the court has to take into account in deciding what the appropriate sentence is for any matter:
You can find the full list here
It doesn't mean you won't be punished, but it does mean that the court will take that factor into account.

When it comes to murder (and only murder) the law is a little different. The briefing paper for the inquiry defines the test as follows:
If the crown cannot disprove provocation, then you can only be found guilty of manslaughter, and will receive a drastically shorter sentence.

Whilst the committee is also examining whether the law on provocation should be amended or tweaked in some way, the main discussion is whether it should be retained at all.

I'm not going to review all of those or try to provide a detailed argument, because the size of that task exceeds my available time.  What I will do is quickly summarise the reasons that I believe the defence should be abolished entirely.

This would mean that provocation would simply be treated as a mitigating feature of a murder, much like it would be for any other violent offence.

It IS murder. These people intended to kill the victim, and did so. They may have been angry, and they may have been sorely provoked, and that should be considered, but to suggest that the offence is not murder is disingenuous.

Other States have done it. And, more importantly, the sky does not appear to have fallen in. Have a look at pages 6 to 8 of the briefing paper if you're interested in the details.

Sentences would increase. It is difficult to dispute that, if the law was changed as suggested, the sentences for these criminals would be longer. I think the community would approve of that, and, for once, I think the community would be right. To take the example of Singh, he should be punished as a murderer, because that is what he is.

It is impossible to accurately estimate what his sentence might have been had he been convicted of murder but been able to plead provocation, but it would have been several times as long.

It's too easy to prove. To again use Singh as an example, we have only his word that his wife said anything to provoke him. As the briefing paper said:
How could the prosecution in Singh's case possibly prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had not been provoked by his wife? As is so often the case, the only person who could deny the provocation is the victim.

Some people have suggested reversing the onus, or at least forcing the defendant to prove provocation on balance, and if the defence is to be retained then that would appear to be an excellent suggestion.

Ordinary Person. This is a slightly obscure objection, but I have a difficulty with the "ordinary person" test. Are there any circumstances that could motivate the "ordinary person" to form an intent to murder? The test takes into account age and maturity, but I still struggle with the suggestion that there are anything other than the most incredible circumstances that could cause an ordinary person to intend to murder.

Of course, juries over the years have found that an ordinary person might have formed the intention to murder, so I'm not sure what we are to do with that. Are juries just too confused by the (very complicated) "ordinary person" test and simply allowing leniency to an accused person they felt sorry for?

The Special Treatment of Murder. As I have explained above, no other offence has a partial defence of provocation, not even very serious violence offences carrying 25 years gaol as a maximum penalty. This does not appear to be causing any great difficulty, so it is reasonable to assume the same if the law on provocation in a murder is changed.

More subtlety on sentence. If the problem of how to deal with provocation is given to a judge on sentence, then the judge can make as much allowance as he or she deems appropriate.

At present, a finding by a jury that a person was provoked immediately reduces the offence to murder and drastically decreases the sentence.

Now, naturally a manslaughter where the provocation was slight will get a heavier sentence, and a murderer who just "misses out" on provocation will get a lighter sentence, but there is nonetheless a huge jump.

If provocation becomes simply another mitigating factor, a judge will be able reduce a sentence exactly as much as is deemed appropriate when the offender's conduct is weighed against the level of provocation.

There is far more to say than that, but it's a start. Hopefully there will be a detailed response published, and I will endeavour to review it as and when it appears.

Disclaimer: I was part of a committee that provided a response to the Provocation Inquiry, These views are, obviously, my own.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Swinging By

The Heffron by-election came and went yesterday with a predictable Labor win.

I've written about the circumstances that lead up to the by-election here.

Suffice to say that, as expected, I didn't hear anyone complain about Keneally leaving early, which just goes to prove that a promise to stay and serve your local electorate no matter the state-wide result is a promise that no one is ever going to hold you to.

In the end, as discussed the post where I reviewed the candidate list, only 4 candidates nominated: Labor, Christian Democrats, Greens and Australian Democrats. In the 2011 election, there were an additional 2 (insignificant) independants as well as the Liberal candidate. In 2012, we were short those three but added an Australian Democrats candidate.

Given the likelihood of an easy Labor victory, the interesting part was going to be where the Liberal voters allocated their vote. All the state-wide polls since the election are very similar to the election result, so it is fair to assume that those that voted ALP or Green last time would vote the same way.

The only exception would be strictly progressive voters who voted Green or Labor last time and may now find a more comfortable fit with the Democrats.

It's unclear exactly how many voters there are who want to vote progressive but dislike the ALP (perhaps because they are a major party, or because of the union ties) but also don't want to vote Green (perhaps being put off by the focus on environmental issues).

This is the (an am sure growing) group that the Democrats would be perfect for - but whether the Democrats can ever rebuild and capture that group remains to be seen.

In any event, this was the result (not including postals, naturally):
Table from the ABC
38% of the voters would have had to vote differently to how they voted in 2011, and every candidate benefitted.

The first remarkable thing is the size of the vote for the Democrats. If the Democrats website is to be believed, in 2011 they ran in only 1 lower house seat, where they garnered just 1.4% of the primary vote. In the upper house, they didn't even manage 1%, which is less than the No Parking Meters Party.

So, where did that 10% come from? I'd say people like this:
It appears that this guy probably voted Green (however begrudgingly) but I suspect a large portion of that 10% were Liberal voters who could not contenance voting Green or Labor. That doesn't really make sense if you've read the Democrats platform, but there you go.

I also wonder how much of it was what I like to think of as the Liberal Democrats effect.

The Liberal Democrats are a party that drew 1.8% of the Senate vote. This is despite them being a fairly anonymous party with a platform that is libertarian and small-government. What I wonder is how many people, put off by the major, better known parties, liked the sound of a name that really told them nothing about the policies, but sounds like something they might like (progressive voters like the word Democrat, conservative voters are comforted by the word Liberal).

In other words, they may have scooped up voters who didn't like the sound of the other parties by having a name they liked.

That could be completely wrong, and we'll never really know what goes on in the mind of the "makes up his mind in the voting booth" voter. But it bears thought.

Other than the Democrats, the biggest rise was reserved for the Labor party.

Why? This tweet from Green upper house member John Kaye caught my eye last night:
He's right. Except when bickering over a few particularly divisive issues, there is hardly a vast chasm between the Liberals and Labor.

Most Liberal voters, when given the choice between Labor (in theory a centre-left party, although views differ) and the Greens (left - or loony left, if you prefer) will choose Labor.

There's no mystery about that. What remains to be seen is whether the Greens can start to capture a greater portion of the vote.

Many feel that Labor (both Federal and State) have drifted further and further to the right - becoming a centrist party. The Greens are not going to win Labor voters by outflanking them on the right - the only way they can take voters off Labor are going to be by winning the voters who are frustrated by Labor's apparent renunciation of left-values.

There's far more to say about that. Suffice to say, it's a pretty fair explanation of why the Greens didn't benefit more from the Liberals not running.

The next by-election with probably be Sydney if Clover Moore (as expected) is re-elected mayor and is forced to resign her state seat. With a prominent local member stepping aside it will be fascinating to see where her votes flow.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Bill for Change

Maybe that cheque isn't quite as blank as Labor would have you believe.

In the lead-up to the election last year, Labor conceded defeat and started campaigning with the line "Don't give Barry O'Farrell a Blank Cheque".

The theory was, I expect, that people would be scared about what the Coalition would get up to if they won too convincingly.

As things eventuated (and as most people expected) the Coalition did of course win the election, and convincingly so - but did not win enough Upper House seats to have an outright majority there.

This of course means that to get legislation through the Upper House they need to bring either Labor or a minor party with them.

The presence of the Shooters and Fishers means that the task is a little easier than perhaps some might like - but nonetheless something is better than nothing.

We saw the Coalition having to give something away earlier this year when it came to getting their Power Sale Legislation through the Upper House. Of course what they had to give was a massively unpopular opportunity for hunting in our National Parks - but, as I said at the time, it was democracy at work.

Earlier this week, however, we saw a far more edifying example of this process.

Last year the Coalition introduced a real dog of a bill on graffiti.

I wrote at the time about why it was such an awful bill, at least in part. In short, there were there main changes to be made in the way that offenders could be dealt with.

The first was to require a court sentencing a person to community service for a graffiti offence to spend time cleaning up graffiti. This is sensible.

The second was to give the court various powers in relation a person's driver's licence if that person is convicted of a graffiti offence.

The powers included:
  • Extending the time the person could spend on their L's or P's by up to 6 months
  • Suspending a person's licence for up to 6 months, or
  • Reducing the threshold number of points before a person can have their licence suspended
I wrote about why it was a dumb idea at the time.

The third change was to remove the power to issue a caution to young offenders. Again, why it was that this change was necessary, and why the additional burden this would place up the court was justified was never properly explained.

In any event, the bill (as expected) sailed through the Lower House. An amendment was moved by Paul Lynch (ALP) to allow police to issue a caution for a first offence, but this was easily defeated. The bill was promptly passed and sent to the Upper House in August 2011.

Here, the Coalition ran into some more trouble. First, Labor moved a amendment. It was explained Adam Searle (ALP):
The changes he suggested were as follows:

  • To allow police the power to give a warning for a child where the offence was a first offence, and
  • To remove the power over drivers licences.
These amendments were made with only the Coalition opposed, and the bill was passed (with the Greens opposing the bill in its entirety) and returned to the Lower House.

The very next day, the Lower House rejected the amendments. When the bill bounced back to the Upper House in mid-September, the Upper House took the unprecedented step of asking for a "Free Conference" - essentially a working group of 10 Upper House and 10 Lower House members to try and reach a mutually acceptable solution.

The motion for a Free Conference was passed by the Upper House with the Coalition and the Christian Democrats Opposing it.

There matters ground to a halt. O'Farrell pontificated about how the Coalition had made this promise but couldn't get the bill passed, and it appeared that that was were things would lie.

Then, earlier this week, completely out of the blue, the Lower House rejected the request for a Free Conference and sent the bill back to the Upper House.
When it arrived, the leader of the Shooter and Fishers moved an amendement. As best I am able to understand it, the amendment removed the power to extend the period of time a young person must spend on L's or P's, removed the power to suspend a licence, but retained the power to reduce the number of points a person must accumulate before their licence as suspended.

As David Shoebridge said when speaking on the amendment, it improves the act (he said "marginally", but I suppose that is a matter of perspective).

The bill as amended was passed and returned again to the Lower House, where it will no doubt promptly pass.

The deal was reported in the Daily Terror as below:
I stand by my opinion that the bill remains a pretty awful one. It is a vague attempt to do "something" without any evidence whatsoever that the "something" will achieve anything. It is another example of politicians engaging in back-of-an-envelope lawmaking.

But it is good to see a bill being improved (however marginally) through the convoluted and drawn out parliamentary process.

It is also interesting to see the Shooters using their position in the Upper House to do this - so many have written about how the Shooters are merely O'Farrell's lapdogs, but here they have forced him to abandon what was seen a key promise made to take action of graffiti.

It remains to be seen if this is the trend or the exception.

*(I'm a little unsure about some of the procedural details above as, in places, I had some not inconsiderable trouble understanding the Hansard transcript. If I've misunderstood something, please let me know in the comments or on twitter)*

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Silent Menace

Here's a hypothetical situation for you to consider.

You're out with some friends on a Saturday night. You've had a few drinks - you're not drunk, but you're enjoying your night. It's a dark pub in the city - there is music, flashing lights, people everywhere.

You look over your shoulder and see your friend being punched by someone you don't recognise. You don't know how it started, and your friend may well deserve that punch, but you immediately run over to try and help your friend.

As you arrive, suddenly there are people everywhere. You get a knock to the head - you're not sure who or it was. Suddenly you're just trying to defend yourself.

After 10 seconds of chaos, someone grabs you round the throat, and before you know it you're on the ground, handcuffed. You're taken to a police station, put in a 1m by 2m cell with a clear plexiglass wall and given an icepack for that lump on your forehead.

You wait there for about 2 hours and start to sober up. You are offered the chance to call a lawyer, but it is 1am on a saturday night, and of course you don't have any lawyer's mobile phone number. The few law firms that you find in the Yellow Pages don't pick up, and in any event, how would you pay for their services?

Then, a police officer approaches you, takes you in a room. As he's setting up, you ask what is going on, and he says "We're investigating what happened in that pub. This is your chance to tell your side of the story."

You respond "Do I have to?" and he replies "No." You say "Am I going to be charged" and he says "Maybe."

He turns the video camera on and is joined by another officer. The say "You are not obliged to say or do anything unless you wish to do so, but whatever you say or do may be used in evidence. Do you understand?"

You say yes, and police start asking questions.

You know you did nothing wrong, and you've got nothing to hide. Do you answer the questions?

If you said yes, you almost certainly just made a massive mistake. Don't feel bad - the vast majority of people (innocent or guilty) who are charged with an offence give an interview. People who are innocent are even more likely to start talking.

I've been working in criminal defence work for four and a half years, and I am yet to see even one interview given by a client that helps them. Not once. I have NEVER even heard of a situation where police decided not to charge someone because of what they said in their interview.

The problem is this - by the time they speak to you at 1am that night, police have taken statements from security, the barman, the alleged victims, and anyone else who they think might help. They have viewed the CCTV footage, if it exists. They have sat down and worked out what they think happened.

They have all the information. You have none. They know what they plan to charge you with, and what the elements of the offence are. You do not.

If you say anything, ANYTHING that differs from what the CCTV footage shows, the police will do everything in their power to use it to your disadvantage. If you forget something, or in your muddled, disorientated state of mind during the interview and then bring it up when your matter is heard, you will be hammered for it.

If you get home and find a huge bruise on your back and suddenly remember that punch you got just before you got hit in the head, or if you remember something that you forgot to mention - too bad so sad, you missed your chance. Anything you add now looks like something you've invented specially.

Interviews are almost universally a very bad thing for accused persons.

This is what makes the changes announced today all the more shocking:

NSW will be the very first jurisdiction in the country to take these steps.

Why is this change such a bad thing? A lot of reasons.

Firstly, the person being interviewed will almost never have had the benefit of legal advice. There will usually not be a lawyer there to protect and advise them, even if they could afford to pay for one. They won't know what they are to be charged with, they won't know the elements of the offence, and they won't know if they are guilty or innocent.

Police, by contrast, will know what they are trying to prove, and will ask difficult, confusing questions to trap you into admitting something, or at least into contradicting what they know they can prove.

These changes will be an even more powerful emotional tool for police to use to convince a person to give an interview. Of course they cannot literally force someone to start answering questions - but once people are told that, in effect, that if you don't tell us what happened it can be bad for you, it is difficult to resist the natural willingness to answer questions.

Moreover, at present I can as a solicitor give general advice that an interview is almost universally a bad thing. I tend to tell anyone who talks to me about my job for more than a few minutes.

If this change is made, that advice will change to "it depends". It will be pretty much impossible to advise a person whether giving an interview is a good idea without spending a decent amount of time talking to them about what has happened - and that assumes that you even know what you are going to be charged with. At 2am in the morning, there is no way that going to happen.

The second issue is the presumption of innocence. The basic principle is that the Crown needs to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a heavy burden - but it is the right burden. Anyone can make an allegation against someone, but we don't want to have to come to court and prove that we didn't do something. Not only is proving a negative all but impossible, but the prosecution have far, far greater resources than all but the wealthiest of defendants.

Police have incredible investigative powers that are not even worth comparing to an individual's. 

The third issue is that there has been no report, no investigation, and no consultation.

Well, that's not quite true. In 2000 the Law Reform Commission closely examined the right to silence and produced this quite excellent report. Their conclusion?
Section 89 of the Evidence Act presently reads:
This mooted change comes completely out of the blue. To my knowledge no one has been actively campaigning for it, no one has suggested that it is a major problem to be fixed, and no other jurisdiction in Australia has tried because it because it is a pretty bloody stupid idea.

The only people quoted in O'Farrell's press release are O'Farrell, AG Greg Smith, the Police Minister Mike Gallagher (3 Liberal politicians) and Police Commissioner Scipione (police being famous for never having met a new power they didn't like).

It is also pretty interesting to look at the reasons that have been proffered by the Coalition as the story broke today.
If by exploited O'Farrell means "being used to the accused's advantage" then I suppose a lot of other rights are in danger.  On that definition, accused person's constantly "exploit" their right to a trial, and their right to legal representation, not to mention their right to a presumption of innocence. 

Unless O'Farrell can point to some evidence of this right being somehow illegitimately exploited then this is a non-sensical criticism.

And to say it an "importan legal right" and then comprehensively rip it to shreds - I don't even know what to say about that.
Well, yes. Of course accused persons restrict information given to police! The police are trying to prove them guilty of an offence that they deny committing! Is O'Farrell expecting these people to actively assist police in trying to prove them guilty?

If police uniformly and reliably investigated matters with the intention of finding the truth (not just "getting their man" as is so often the case), and if the police never made a mistake, never jumped to a conclusion and never relied on their "gut" rather than the evidence, then perhaps this wouldn't be such a problem. But we all know that is a fantasy.
Ah, that old chestnut! Common sense! Also known as "We have no evidence that this is a good idea, but it sounds good, so we're going to do it!"

That's why you hear so much talk about "common sense" from some people. It's a wonderful way to avoid annoying things like "evidence", "specialised knowledge" and "research".
Brad Burden is the head media guy for O'Farrell, and his tweets today got me madder than any others.

Bring into line with the UK? What possible reason is there that we need to have the same laws on this topic as the UK does?

Bringing laws into line with other states can sometimes makes sense. At the moment the states are working on bringing together the laws surrounding heavy vehicles. This makes a lot of sense - the heavy vehicle regulation in NSW is eye-wateringly complicated, and having to work with the laws in 6 other states and territories must be an absolute nightmare.

To suggest that there is a good reason to bring laws into line with the UK is ridiculous in the extreme.

It is also worth noting that in the UK there is a scheme whereby any accused person can at any time have access to legal advice 24/7. There are duty lawyers who are always available to attend police stations and give advice

In NSW, you have the right to access legal advice, but it is impossible to find unless you have the mobile number of a criminal lawyer in your pocket. Legal Aid do great work in NSW but their funding has no prospect of even coming close to this level of service - they are hard-up providing enough lawyers just to make the court appearances for their clients during waking hours.
This was the tweet that really made me crazy. This change has nothing to do with victims of crime. It is about making it easier to convict someone of an offence. To link it to "victims of crime" is just plain deceptive.

That segues pretty well to the biggest complaint I have about these changes.

Everyone is going to be talking about the way that these changes will affect people who are guilty of crimes and trying to hide it. Case in point:
I have no problem with something that makes it easier to lock up people who are guilty of offences. That's good, and proper, and should be encouraged.

What upsets me about these changes is the effect that it will have on people who are not guilty of anything.

If you are innocent of any crime, the absolute worst thing that can happen to you is a police interview, especially before you get legal advice. Police will know the evidence they want to get from you. They will spin your answers, they will provide you with information as and when it suits their questions, they will change tack and try and catch you in a lie, and they will give you every opportunity to say something they can prove is untrue.

There is no magistrate to rule questions out, and there is most likely no lawyer there to help explain things to you. And your answers will be mercilessly used to convince a jury that you are in fact guilty.

And more innocent people will go to gaol as a result. Fact.

Nice one Barry.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

By the By

The by-election in Heffron is going to be held on 25 August.

I've already written about why the by-election is happening and what it all means here, so I won't repeat myself.

Suffice to say that, as expected, the Coalition has recognized that running a candidate is a no-win option, and are taking a pass.

Anthony Green has, as usual, put together an outstanding page on the by-election, which is thoroughly worth reading.

I just wanted to add a few thoughts.

First of all, the candidates: (summaries from Anthony Green's page)
First of all, as a Public Defender, Hoenig immediately earns some respect (from me, at least). PD's are barristers who work for Legal Aid full-time (as opposed to most barristers who are briefed by solicitors and may or may not do some legal aid work).

PD's work defending people who are often seen as being the lowest of the low, and their work is usaully pretty thankless. They do that for, in the vast majority of cases, far less money than they could earn in private practice.

It's also worth noting that he has apparently been Mayor of Botany Bay for over 30 years, which must be some kind of record.

A pretty impressive sheet.
A serial candidate - not that that is likely to affect her vote. I suspect that CDP voters are, typically, voting more for the party than the candidate anyway.
Unlike the CDP candidate, Faruqi is not only a local, but ran for the Greens in this seat in 2011. But for the fact that Hoenig has an equally impressive "pedigree", one would expect that to give her a big advantage in a by-election, given the usual collection of opportunists that tend to nominate.

She is apparently well-known locally, and has quite the profile in the party.
I don't really have anything to add, other than that is a heck of a CV he's got there.

According to Anthony Green, the Greens need a swing of 16.2%. It's difficult to see where they could possibly find that, given the local pedigree that Hoenig has.

That's all assuming that Anthony Green's analysis of the preference flow is right. He has (quite reasonably) based it on the preference flow in Marrickville in 2011, which is a seat where the 2PP was LABvGRN. That's sensible, and all he really can do - but it is flawed because the further west you go in Heffron the "Greener" you get. The flow in the Southern and Eastern parts will not flow the same way.

Having said that, the other two candidates will not really figure, except for the Coalition voters who go with the CDP candidate rather than do the unthinkable and given Labor or the Greens a "1".

The fact that Labor have drawn the top spot will only further guarantee what should be an easy victory.

What will be more interesting will be the reaction to Kristina Keneally's husband Ben Keneally succeeding Hoenig as Botany Bay Mayor, and whether he starts positioning himself for a tilt at a seat in 2015.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Pokie in the Gut

Something is always better than nothing. Right?

It doesn't take a great amount of human experience to know that this is not right. It applies to food, friends, music - in fact, nothing is better than something with remarkable frequency.

We all know this to be true. Which makes the announcement about the Salvos' deal with Clubs NSW all the more unbelievable.

The Salvos brand has taken a battering in the last year or so. They generally do outstanding work in the community, and should continue to be recognised for the counselling, crisis support and other community needs they service.

In September of last year the Eastern Territory Branch of the Salvos pulled its support for Wilkie's pokie changes. That was misrepresented as being the view of the Salvos in general (a claim taken apart by Tom Cummings on his blog) but it was nonetheless a pretty awful development.

Why on earth were the Salvos, of all people, supporting the Clubs NSW line?

Then, in June of this year, there was another media storm about the Salvos' position on homosexuality.
Full article here
Now, we have this:
Full article here
It shouldn't take any great insight to see what Clubs NSW are doing here.

They don't care about problem gambling - or, at least to the extent they do, they are happy to regard it as "collateral damage" in their determination to get the money in the door.

It is the only possible explanation for their constant obstruction of any meaningful reform of the pokie laws.

Let's be clear - if the clubs lobby actually wanted to make a difference in the fight against problem gambling they would get rid of their machines. Failing that, there are any number of measures they could take ($1 maximum bets, time limits on machines etc) that would reduce problem gambling but not affect the vast majority of "social gamblers".

So, in those circumstances, why have they agreed to have the Salvos involved in this Chaplain scheme? Easy.


Will this actually reduce problem gambling? Probably. A very little bit.

The deal struck over the weekend is for only 1 club on a 12-month trial basis. The Chaplain will be there 15 hours a week.

So, this means that for an average of 2 hours a day, in one club, there will be a Chaplain strolling round. This for a club that is open 7 days a week, and open 9am to 3am most days.

A club with 402 machines. Four hundred and two. One Chaplain, 2 hours a day.

The Chaplain will probably help a few people, and for that I am pleased.

But the price? For the next 12 months Clubs NSW gets to trumpet their New Chaplaincy Trial To Reduce Problem Gambling - another weapon in the fight against actual meaningful change to fight problem gambling.

Anthony Ball (head of Clubs NSW) has promised to roll out the scheme across the state if it is "successful".
Quote from the ABC
You can be the judge as to how likely that is.

So. Is something better than nothing? Not even close.

Not when your something means giving huge amount of undeserved credibility to an organisation who rips billions of dollars out of the community. An organisation who ruins lives, and then flicks a small percentage back so that we inexplicably tolerate it. Not when you are so foolish that you don't see or don't care that you are being taken advantage of, to the detriment of the community.

My final word? Said by someone else first: