"Look, if the slope is slippery, it's the most unslippery slippery dip I've ever seen in my life."
This, of course, was a Chapmanism, ie. a fib. It's instructive to look at the chronology to see how swiftly anti-smoking extremism is applied to other activities. In February, three months after the plain packaging bill was made law, evangelical anti-gambling campaigners had already latched onto the idea. This is from the Reverend Bill Crews on 6 February. Although it reads like a parody, it's real.
Now, with the exception of a trial in the ACT, pokie reform has been kicked down the road – past the next election. And that means more lives will be destroyed.
Something has to be done, so how about this for an idea… it’s similar to what's happening with cigarettes. How about the equivalent of plain paper packaging, but for pokies. How about we turn off all the flashing lights. How about we turn off all whistling sound effects and the bells. How about we make the screen a simple black-and-white display with no fancy graphics or icons. In other words, plain packaging for pokies.
We know the lights and the whistles and the bells are what lures in the problem gamblers. It stands to reason then that if we got rid of them we’d go a long way to solving the problem.
Notice the 'something must be done' dog whistle and the bone-headed assumption that bright colours have a Pied Piper effect on feckless Australians. But nothing takes off faster Down Under than new nanny state ideas and, sure enough, the following month...
THE Baillieu Government [in the state of Victoria] has ordered pubs and clubs to install "plain packaging" betting signs in a bid to curb pokies losses.
... Signs promoting Tatts Pokies or Tabaret must be replaced by plain versions, which will simply say "pokies" in white text on a single colour background.
The rules even specify the plain font to be used - Helvetica, Arial or similar.
... The rules ban "decorative ridges or illumination, embossing, bulges or other irregularities". Also prohibited are "words, numbers, symbols or pictures" associated with pokies.
This is simply the cigarette law rewritten verbatim. By April, the Tasmanian Green Party was crusading for the same measure, citing the anti-smoking campaign as their direct inspiration.
TASMANIAN Greens gaming spokesman Kim Booth yesterday called for the Treasurer to urgently trial plain packaging on pokies machines.
Mr Booth said that while waiting for the federal mandatory pre-commitment reforms, the lure of pokies' bells, whistles, dollar signs, gold mines and treasure chests needed to be removed, and it was a possible first step to a solution to problem pokies gambling.
"Plain packaging works for anti-smoking* so it should be investigated to see if it would be equally effective against pokies," Mr Booth said.
The Greens' anti-gambling bill was tabled in parliament this week. At least the Greens are upfront about their prohibitionist agenda and admit that this is just Stage One.
“Tasmanians lose more than $200 per year to poker machines, which is why the Greens support a $1 bet limit, plain packaging for pokies and mandatory pre-commitment, as temporary measures leading to an eventual ban.”
Not bad work in the space of twelve months. Imagine what could be done in the space of twelve years.
It's the same old story. The anti-smoking zealots lead the way and the crusaders against alcohol, food and gambling follow in their footsteps. It has been witnessed time and again around the world for donkey's years. Anyone who claims that there is no slippery slope is not engaging in debate or making a reasoned argument—they are brazenly and knowingly lying.
* Er, actually it hasn't been tried yet.