Woolworthes takes Get-Up to court

Simon Sheikh – GetUp! info@getup.org.au
1:09 PM (45 minutes ago)

to me


It’s on. We were just served by Woolworths and tomorrow we will be heading to the Federal Court.

Why? GetUp members who are Woolworths shareholders have exercised their shareholder power under corporations law, calling an Extraordinary General Meeting to vote on making the company’s poker machines safer for communities.

Woolworths is the largest operator of dangerous high-loss poker machines in the country. But rather than simply hold a meeting to discuss reform, they’re using an expensive legal team to avoid scrutiny and prevent their own shareholders from holding them accountable.

I’m talking about shareholders like Karen, a GetUp member from Melbourne, who has owned Woolies shares for years. Karen lost her partner to suicide spurred by problem gambling. Today an unnamed Woolworths media spokesperson called her action a “stunt”. We call it “standing up for what’s right.”

We’ve pulled together a top legal team to take on Woolworths tomorrow – and help members like Karen hold them accountable – but it won’t be cheap, and we urgently need a legal fund. Can you chip in?


We don’t yet know how exactly much it will cost to fight this move through the courts. So, if we raise more funds than are needed for this legal battle, I’ll write back to let you know and offer a refund of your donation, or ask if you’d like to put it toward the next move in our campaign for pokies reform

Woolworths is using the classic corporate tactic: when faced with community action, pull in expensive lawyers and tie the process up in legal action. From Gunns to James Hardie, we’ve seen it before. Often it doesn’t matter whether their case is strong. The point is to out-spend community activists – to intimidate them into giving up.

We must prove that won’t work. Whether we win or lose this court battle – and we intend to win – one thing is for sure: we have to fight.

Tomorrow’s court action is simply about trying to prevent Woolworths from getting court permission to ignore its shareholders’ meeting request. Woolworths is crying poor, saying the meeting is too expensive but the meeting will cost less than what we estimate Woolworths takes from addicted problem gamblers in a single day.

Please chip in a contribution now to help defend the right of members like Karen, and hold Woolworths accountable:


This all came about because GetUp members used corporations law to legitimately call an Extraordinary General Meeting of the company. That means that all 423,000 Woolworths shareholders will receive a letter explaining that the company is the largest operator of dangerous poker machines in Australia; and be invited to participate in a binding vote to limit the harm these machines can cause problem gamblers.

Under the proposed reforms, gamblers wouldn’t be able to bet more than $1 per spin, or lose more than $120 during an hour on a single machine. Because Woolworths is the biggest player in this industry, it would be a huge change to the pokies business as whole, and help problem gamblers and their families nationwide.

We think it’s a fight worth standing for.

Thanks for being with us,
Simon, for the whole team at GetUp.

PS – On a personal note, thank you so much to everyone who sent in messages of concern and support over the last few days. On Monday night I collapsed while on the panel of ABC’s Q&A program, but I’m recovering well. ABC took very good care of me and got me straight to hospital. The doctors gave me the all clear; I’ve been reeling from influenza and was exhausted. We’ve had a lot of campaigns on the go recently, and I clearly pushed myself too hard. Collapsing on live TV was a pretty embarrassing way to learn a lesson, but it got through.

Fortunately, I’m just a small part of GetUp. We have a great team of staff and volunteers, who continued to work on our campaigns (actually we were served by Woolworths while I was recovering in hospital). Most importantly, there are hundreds of thousands of GetUp members across the country behind the campaigns. My wife read me messages from GetUp members and it meant the world to me. Thank you. I wish you and yours great health.

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you’d like to contribute to help fund GetUp’s work, please donate now! If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to www.getup.org.au. To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here. Authorised by Simon Sheikh, Level 2, 104 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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