If I told you that ice cream was bad for you – that it has too much sugar, will rot your teeth, and go straight to your thighs, and you shouldn’t eat it – would you stop? Probably not. But what would your reaction be if I were licking away at an ice cream cone when I said it?
You’d probably laugh in my face and tell me to go pound sand, right? That’s essentially the reaction MP Sarah Henderson – known a highly vocal, anti-gambling political stance – is receiving after it was discovered that she’s invested in shares of Australia pokies firm, Aristocrat Leisure.
When Henderson’s investments were publicised last week, only the list of stocks she owned was made available. She was not ordered to divulge the size of her investments in each company. Despite multiple calls for such information, the Corangamite MP has staunchly refused to reveal just how much stock she owns in Aristocrat Leisure.
Australia Pokies Debacle Catching Fire
The hypocritical Henderson isn’t the only one catching flack for it, either. Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who’s equally antagonistic towards the proliferation of poker machines in the nation, has come under fire from the media.
Reporters caught up to PM Turnbull at Avalon Airport on Friday, where they hounded him for answers. He was asked if he believes Mr. Henderson, who previously named Australia pokies a “social curse”, should divest her shares in the company.
The nation’s leader dodged the question, responding only with a confirmation of knowledge regarding the situation.
“I understand (the stake in the company) has been a disclosure that has been made in accordance to the standing orders,” said PM Turnbull.
He refused,however, to say whether he intended to ask the Corangamite MP to divest herself from the Australia pokies company.
The media pressed the issue, asking if the Prime Minister thought Henderson’s investment was appropriate, considering her vocal opposition to poker machines. To that, he simply replied:
“You’ll have to address that to the member.”
Anti-Pokies Advocates Call Her Out
PM Turbull may be afraid to speak his mind on the matter, but other pokies reform factions and anti-gambling organizations are not.
Baptist Minister Tim Costello, a spokesperson for the Alliance for Gambling Reform who’s always quick to throw his two cents into the pot, said he was”disappointed” by Ms Henderson’s actions.
“I’m sure Sarah will do the right thing and divest herself,” said Costello with utmost confidence.
Philanthropist Paul Bendat, another campaigner for gambling reform, told the press that Henderson simply must divest of the Australia pokies shares, as “a matter of personal morality”.
The MP’s investment in Aristocrat Leisure, the nation’s largest manufacturer of land-based and digital poker machines, was exposed last Wednesday. Aristocrat is a multi-billion dollar company that’s grown immensely since its 1953 founding.
MP Henderson’s shares in the company are a direct conflict with her resounding political stance. Just recently, she made comments in the House of Representatives, saying Australia pokies are:
“…a social curse for many families, where it runs rampant and causes enormous issues with family breakdown and financial hardship.”
Henderson herself has remained silent on the issue, avoiding questioning from the press. It will be interesting to see what she decides to do with her shareholdings. For now, the public has been left with a negative mindset that Ms Henderson wants the people to, “Do as I say, not as I do.”