“It is a serious moral problem to make a promise and then wilfully break it, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard has done,” Bishop Philip Huggins said today.
 
Bishop Huggins, who is Chair of the Melbourne Anglican Social Responsibilities Committee, said the Prime Minister “did not just break her promise to Mr Wilkie”. “She broke it with the coalition of groups who then lent their support to these reforms. She broke it too with those problem gamblers who bravely spoke in public about their plight, hoping their support of the reforms might give some meaning to their suffering and that of their families.”
 
He said the governing body of the Anglican Church in Melbourne, the Diocesan Synod, representing more than 200 Parishes, plus welfare and educational bodies, also backed the gambling reforms last October. “Along with other Church and community groups, we saw these reforms as sensible proposals to assist problem gamblers manage their addiction and put them on the path to healing and freedom.”
 
He added: “Delivering her promise to Mr Wilkie was always going to be difficult for the Prime Minister. The Clubs and Casinos were always going to campaign against it, making backbenchers and other Independents anxious.
 
“But there is a deeper issue. When individuals and community organisations co-operate with Governments of the day for needed reforms, our civil society grows stronger. But when confidence in a Government’s trustworthiness is shaken by broken promises, people withdraw and civil society is depleted.
 
“At its extreme, we see this now in the bitterness of citizens towards their Government in parts of Europe and the Middle East.
 
"For these reasons of moral and political integrity, and for the sake of vulnerable problem gamblers, the Prime Minister is urged to return to her original agreement with Mr Wilkie. Let strong public opinion then encourage the Parliament to endorse these reforms."
 
-Ends-
 
Contact
Bishop Philip Huggins
Tel: 0418 799 515
 

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