|Subject: Read about it (or not) - ROCK STAR POLITICIAN ACCUSES POKIE INDUSTRY (but not any more)|
|Date: 6/10/2015, 9:57 pm|
Labor's star recruit at the 2004 election, Mr Garrett said he was handed an envelope at a function hosted by the clubs and hotels industry welcoming newly elected MPs.
"A representative came to me and said, 'look, great to see you coming into politics, and we're happy to provide some support'," Mr Garrett said.
The former member for Kingsford-Smith in Sydney said he returned the envelope once he discovered there was money inside it.
"I didn't count it," he said.
"But it was hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
"I wasn't going to accept money from them or from anyone in that way.
"But it was a very early taste of the way in which this sector could actually operate."Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
[scary big black rectangle that can't be moved - just like in "2001"]
This revelation was meant to be included in an upcoming ABC documentary, Kaching! Pokie Nation, as well as in Mr Garrett's autobiography.
But after being contacted by the ABC for this story, the former Midnight Oil frontman disowned those comments.
The former minister now says after speaking with his former staffer Kate Pasterfield, who was also there, that the envelope did not contain cash, but instead a cheque made out to his electorate office, which he said he returned.
He also said the event in question took place before he was elected, which would mean the possible offence of bribery or attempted bribery of a public official would not apply.
Mr Garrett has requested his original comments be excised from both the documentary and the book, in light of his memory failure.
Publisher Allen & Unwin and the documentary makers are now scrambling to amend the record according to Mr Garrett's new recollection.
Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who signed an agreement with the former Labor government to curb problem gambling, said he was "deeply shocked" by the allegations and Mr Garrett's response.
Why he would now abandon that story and talk about there just being a cheque in an envelope, it beggars belief.Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie
"For him to turn around now with a completely different story is unfathomable, completely out of character for the man," Mr Wilkie said.
"Why he would now abandon that story and talk about there just being a cheque in an envelope, it beggars belief."
International Bar Association anti-corruption committee co-chair Robert Wyld said Mr Garrett's original claims deserve closer scrutiny.
"I've been told by politicians, former politicians and their staffers of a number of such payments being made across the board from all corners of the political spectrum," he said.
Monash University's Dr Charles Livingstone has researched the public health impacts of gambling addiction for two decades.
He said he was aware of two federal politicians — an independent and a Liberal — as well four NSW MPs who were offered substantial sums of unreceipted cash.
Mr Wilkie and others believe the industry's attempts to buy political influence were obvious.
"How then do you explain so many politicians not acting in the public interest?" Mr Wilkie said.
"Something must explain their behaviour."
Clubs NSW has denied making any payment — cash, cheque or otherwise — to Mr Garrett.
The Australian Hotels Association did not respond to the ABC's request for comment.