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Wilkie taking advice after Slipper news
2012-05-04T15:18:52+08:00

Wilkie taking advice after Slipper news

KEY Independent Federal MP Andrew Wilkie is taking advice on "uncertainty and changing circumstances" in Federal Parliament and the implications for his poker machine reform demands.

In light of the scandal engulfing Speaker Peter Slipper, Mr Wilkie could regain some of the political clout he lost when the former Queensland Liberal-National MP secured the speakership late last year and delivered Labor an extra vote in the Lower House.

Mr Slipper stepped aside as Speaker at the weekend pending the resolution of allegations of criminal misuse of taxpayer-funded Cabcharge dockets.

The MP also faces civil legal proceedings over allegations he sexually harassed a former male adviser.

Mr Slipper has denied all the allegations, which surfaced while Mr Wilkie is in the midst of talks with Community Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin about the Government's proposed pokies reforms.

Ms Macklin wrote to him last Friday about his demands on the pokies issue.

"I am now considering Minister Macklin's response and taking advice in light of the uncertainty and changing circumstances in the parliament," Mr Wilkie said.

He is unhappy draft legislation presented by the Government does not specify that poker machines have to be "flick-the-switch ready" for future governments to roll out mandatory precommitment technology.

Previously, he warned the Government he would be a "ticking time bomb" over the next 18 months if they didn't amend the laws to his satisfaction.

Ms Macklin claims the government has legal advice the gambling reform bill achieves Mr Wilkie's aim.

The Tasmanian MP in January ripped up his agreement to support the Labor Government, after Prime Minister Julia Gillard reneged on a promise to introduce mandatory precommitment by 2014 and instead proposed a trial of the technology in the ACT.

Mr Wilkie was in Canberra today meeting with Government and Opposition representatives but declined to comment further on his position.

Meanwhile, anti-gambling campaigners are hopeful Mr Wilkie might be able to resurrect the original pokies reform deal.

Tim Costello, the face of the Stop the Loss Coalition, said Mr Slipper's decision to stand aside could "change the politics" of the issue.

He said there was strong public support for real action on problem gambling.

A spokesman for Clubs Australia said they were not nervous about Mr Wilkie's ongoing talks with Ms Macklin.

"Our campaign was about mandatory precommitment being introduced without a trial," he said.

"Everyone has