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Woolies, GetUp! pokies fight goes to court

Woolies, GetUp! pokies fight goes to court

Thu July 5, 2012 4:21pm

A POKER machines stoush between Woolworths and left-wing activist group GetUp! has ended up in court.

More than 250 Woolworths shareholders led by GetUp! have called for the retailer to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to vote on amending the company's constitution to prevent it from owning or operating poker machines with more than a $1 maximum bet.

The resolution sought by GetUp! imposes revenue limits of $120 an hour and prevents the use of gaming machines for more than 18 hours from 2016.

But Woolworths has filed an application with the Federal Court in Sydney to delay the EGM until its annual general meeting (AGM) on November 22.

"A separate EGM is an unnecessary cost and impost to shareholders given the motion isn't urgent and that the AGM is the more appropriate forum," a Woolworths spokeswoman said.

"We're very happy to have the debate and the dialogue with GetUp!."

But a GetUp! spokesman said Woolworths was trying to avoid the issue by seeking to hold the vote during the AGM and the activist group would fight for the EGM in court.

"We argue that the company needs to address this issue immediately rather than waiting another half year and burying it in the AGM," he said.

Lawyers for Woolworths and GetUp! will put their sides of the case when they appear before the court on Friday.

GetUp! claims the cost of holding the EGM was less one per cent of the profits Woolworths made from its 12,000 poker machines each year.

Director Simon Sheikh said the move to call the EGM was the first time such a large company had been requisitioned by its members, but he said that was not a reason for the meeting not to occur.

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