Aussie politician compares gambling with chocolate
This came as an unusual surprise to the gambling industry when Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton made comments comparing problem gambling to a chocolate addiction. His remarks came during a heated debate on limiting access to cash from eftpos machines in clubs. Mr.Parton strongly defended clubs by expressing his views against moderating withdrawals and said: “Canberrans were more likely addicted to chocolate than to pokie machines.”
Mr. Parton said in the Legislative Assembly yesterday, “The ACT, certainly comparatively speaking, does not have a massive problem – less than half of 1 percent of the adult population,” “We have more people addicted to chocolate in this town than to gambling.”
Mr. Parton was debating the merits of a motion put forward by Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, calling on the Government to tighten access to cash at the clubs. Mr. Rattenbury said, “I thought Mark’s reference to chocolate … was pretty unfortunate, I think it was really inappropriate,” “I’d like to think it was one of those things that just got said in the heat of the moment, and on reflection perhaps he wouldn’t draw that likeness again.”
ABC Radio Canberra interviewed Mr. Parton this morning where he said that he was trying to illustrate the ACT’s low gambling rates. He said, “[I was] making the point that the problem gambling rate in the ACT is the lowest of any problem gambling rate in the country … that indeed there would be more people addicted to chocolate,” “If you are seriously addicted to chocolate, it will eventually shorten your life – and everyone has the opportunity to go out and buy copious amounts of chocolate.
“What we’re talking about here is freedom – it’s not for governments to decide what people can and can’t spend their money on.”
He also said that despite their differences he agrees much with Mr. Rattenbury’s motion and his concerns were more about his tone. Even Problem gambler Laurie Brown and her partner John Formby were later approached by Mr. Parton where he told them he hoped he has not offended anyone. Mr. Formby though said that the politician comments were stupid with no chocolate addiction costing $200,000 in 18 months.