Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas has criticised the reappointment of Stephen Howells as the Presiding Member of the Independent Gambling Authority (IGA).
“Mr Howells’ conduct in his time as Presiding Member already has drawn much criticism, and the Rann Government should not have reappointed him,” Mr Lucas said today.
“Whilst gambling issues are conscience issues in the Liberal Party, I know my views are shared by a number of other Members of Parliament.
“What is important to note is that the criticism of Mr Howells doesn’t just come from Members generally sympathetic to the existence of a gaming industry but also comes from Members who voted against the introduction of poker machines and who continue to oppose the industry.
“I have also been informed that some senior members of the Rann Government were unhappy with his performance in the position, and were concerned to learn of his re-appointment.
“However, the significant support of left Members of the Cabinet such as Mr Conlon and Mr Weatherill ensured his reappointment.
“When opposition to a Government appointment is so widespread Mr Rann should be concerned because the task of the IGA will be made much more difficult in an environment where there is significant opposition to the Presiding Member.
“Members of Parliament have received a number of complaints about Mr Howells’ attitude, antagonism and personal attacks on some people holding differing views to his.
“There has also been significant criticism of his treatment of some witnesses at public inquiries and also of his non-attendance at some public inquiry meetings even though witnesses had actually flown from interstate to appear before Mr Howells.
“If Mr Howells is going to continue in this position then any perception of independence would also be assisted by Mr Howells not inserting himself as a public commentator supporting the Rann Government in political issues other than gambling.”