Sunday 29. November, 2015

ClubsNSW Drops Defamation Case Against MP Andrew Wilkie

ClubsNSW has dropped a court case against independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie in which he was accused of defamation for comments he made about the poker machine industry. ClubsNSW brought the case against Wilkie, as well as against the ABC, after they aired a program about the pokies industry.

Within the report, former Labor minister Peter Garrett was featured claiming that he was handed an envelope of cash by a ClubsNSW representative, which he promptly returned, while he was in office prior to the 2004 elections.

Garrett withdrew the claim before the film was aired in October, stating that the envelope in fact contained a cheque, not cash and it was given to him before he was elected, not after. However, in an ABC 7:30 story, Wilkie suggested that the payment was a bribe.

“I mean it has gone from bags of cash being offered to him after he was elected, to a cheque before he was elected,” said Wilkie. “It just beggars belief and I suppose I’d have to ask him straight: do you really think we’re mugs?”

ClubsNSW has denied that it ever gave Mr Garrett an envelope, containing either cash or a cheque.

While ClubsNSW did not give any reason for dropping the case, it has been suggested that they did not want to give Mr Wilkie access to sensitive information about the group and their operations which would come out during the legal discovery process. ClubsNSW represents approximately 1,000 registered clubs which operate more than 70,000 poker machines.

Wilkie stressed that he will “continue to point out the harm that the poker machine industry is doing in this country, and in particular, in this state, which has half the poker machines in Australia.”

ClubsNSW will still pursue their case against the ABC.

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