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48 days from now is a milestone in the fight for pokies reform. That’s when GetUp members have forced Woolworths, Australia’s largest operator of high-loss poker machines, to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on pokies reform.
I want to outline exactly what we need to do, together, to seize this moment.
The short story? Every bit of public pressure we can apply over the coming weeks will be extremely effective. The EGM is a loudspeaker for our campaign: we can use it to generate story after story of national media coverage about the need for pokies reform. We make sure that not just Woolworths – but every operator of dangerous poker machines – sees that they have to choose between a family-friendly brand and a family-wrecking product.
We have a 6 point plan, detailed below. It will cost $95,000 over the next 12 weeks. It may be a meagre sum compared to Woolworths’s huge corporate budgets, but it will create millions of dollars worth of media coverage, and reach every single shareholder of Woolworths Ltd.
We all need to pitch in if this is going to work. If 990 of us chip in $8 a week, for just 12 weeks, we can make it work. Can you be one of those 990?
Our strategy doesn’t rely on winning the vote at the Woolworths EGM. Campaigns just aren’t that easy!
The EGM will be judged not by the number of investors who vote with us, but by the number of Australians who take action in the weeks before and after. The meeting is an amplifier that will make everything we do over the next 12 weeks gain extra attention from media, shareholders, investors and management.
So here’s the plan that your donation will enable:
1. Helping affected families speak up.
Many brave GetUp members have stepped forward to tell powerful stories about how their loved ones have been crippled by pokie addiction, and in some tragic cases, lost to related suicide. Your support will let us fly those members from across the country to the Woolworths EGM in Adelaide, where they can share their stories with investors and media. This will cost approx. $8,500.
2. Writing to every Woolworths shareholder.
Our letter (technically called a 249P statement) will be delivered to every Woolworths Shareholder. We will also reach out directly to tens of thousands of shareholders who aren’t able to attend the EGM. Printing and postage is approx. $13,500.
3. Reaching Woolworths customers on the ground.
Giving letters to Woolworths customers across the country, encouraging them to get behind this campaign by delivering the notes to Woolworths local branch managers. Printing and delivery will cost approx. $15,500.
4. Detailed briefings for institutional investors.
Professional, independent research about the economic and social impact of Woolworths’ poker machines is crucial to start moving large institutional investors. We will update and further our research, and deliver personal briefings to major institutional investors. Our first report, showing that Woolworths’ pokies have the worst impact in low socio-economic areas, already made headlines last weekend. Cost is approx. $22,500.
5. Visible community events.
Printing banners, placards and brochures for community actions outside of local Woolworths stores to show customers and the community that the ‘Fresh Food People’ are also the ‘Pokies People’. Cost: $15,500 to print banners and fliers.
6. Community spotlight on the EGM
On the day of the AGM, let’s hold a huge community gathering to show support for pokies reform. Meetings are fairly boring for media to cover, so our event will help ensure the news coverage shows the community’s voice outside, not just the corporate spin inside. These events cost real money: from stages to PA systems, insurance, signage and even first aid: total cost is approx. $19,500.
It was 257 courageous GetUp members who initiated the shareholder motion that propelled this campaign into the national spotlight and won us the right to hold a Woolworths EGM.
They took this bold action because they’ve seen the devastating impact high-loss poker machines have on families, friends and communities. When the Federal Government caved in to the pressure from corporate gambling lobby groups like Woolworths, GetUp members decided to go to the source of the problem and target the people who have the power to change their business overnight – the Board of Woolworths.
Thanks for being part of it. Now, let’s continue the fight.
Erin, Carl and the GetUp team.
PS – Just yesterday the GetUp initiated Woolworths EGM was written up in the Power Index as being #1 of the “top five must-watch” AGMs of the season. With your help we can build unstoppable pressure within Woolworths to reform their predatory poker business: http://www.getup.org.au/woolworths-turn-up-the-heat