Media release: Family First is backing calls from former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson for the Nationals to get on board with poker machine reform.

Independent candidate for the NSW Upper House and Family First National Director, Lyle Shelton, has been a long-time supporter of poker machine reform.

“If elected on March 25, mine will be a sure Upper House vote for reform in a chamber where many members are likely to be beholden to the gambling industry,” he said.

Shelton agreed with the Alliance for Gambling Reform’s push to go even further and cap poker machine bets at $1.

“In NSW, $18.5 million is lost every day of the year through pub and club pokies causing untold social and economic harm.

“We all love our pubs and clubs but a business model that profits from the pain of vulnerable people and facilitates money laundering must be changed,” Shelton said.

Anderson’s intervention in the debate to protect vulnerable people and stop criminal money laundering comes as the party he formerly led continues to drag its feet on curbing poker machine harm.

“I am stunned by how often people say to me, we just want some leadership - well here it is,” he told the Nine newspapers.

The Liberals have committed to introducing a cashless debit card with spending limits while Labor has pledged a trial and a cut in the number of poker machines.

Anderson told Nine newspapers:

“No one is trying to stop the clubs, only the people squandering their lives. Some of those people are putting that money into those machines instead of their grocery shop.”

Nine reported this anecdote from Anderson:

After a lengthy political career, Anderson said there was one exchange with a 14-year-old Aboriginal boy outside the Alice Springs casino that has always stayed with him.

“He looked miserable, and he said to me, ‘it’s payday and our oldies are in there, the one-armed bandits. They lose more often than they win and there’s a high chance I’ll go to school hungry tomorrow’.”

Shelton is leading an independent group ticket for the Upper House because NSW electoral law requires a 16 month lead-time to register political parties.

Family First has only recently been re-birthed.

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