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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2332


Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (18:49): I start off by saying that, as a reformed smoker of nearly 30 years, I have a keen interest in this area. I gave up back in 2004. I look back at how addictive tobacco is. Doctors, clinicians and people tell me that tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs available to mankind. We know that tobacco causes illness, death, amputations and a whole range of things, yet the tobacco companies still spruik to try to sell to the public. They use every marketing trick in the book to attract new smokers to this dreadful drug, which has killed so many people over the years in this world. We know some of the tactics and tricks they use. For example, because of the advertising cut down and the push to ban tobacco not just here in Australia but around the world, they continually get high-profile movie stars to pull out and show a packet of cigarettes and light up in movies. In the early 1990s Sylvester Stallone was paid $50,000 just to pull out and show a packet of cigarettes in a movie. I will not name the brand, because I will never allow myself to name a tobacco product and give them a profile, but these are some of the tactics they use.

I was very proud to be the chair of the Standing Committee on Health and Ageing back in the 2010-13 parliament. I chaired the plain-packaging tobacco inquiry. During that inquiry we saw some of the tactics that are used on packaging. For example, some of the slimline cigarettes were obviously marketed to attract young females. Cigarettes in tins and other marketing products were to attract young males. We know that inhaling tobacco is a dying art either way—you will die from it one day or you will give up—so they are always looking at new tactics and how to get across to our youth especially.

Even though we are supporting the Treasury Laws Amendment (Illicit Tobacco Offences) Bill 2018—I think it's a good way to go, and I have heard the arguments on both sides—one point we want to make clear in this debate is the coalition's continued acceptance of donations from big tobacco. It's an absolute disgrace that they are accepting money from a tobacco company. Members of parliament have to set the standard. These companies produce a drug that addicts people and will kill them in the long run if they continue smoking it. I sometimes ask friends of mine and others who still smoke: 'Who do you see smoking? Do you see anyone over 70?' It is very rare that you do because they have passed away at an early age because of the addiction to tobacco.

We need to make sure that we don't accept from tobacco companies money that is given for public elections. It's really sad and unfortunate that the coalition continues to accept donations from the big tobacco companies. As I said, that is a disgrace. As members of parliament we should be setting the standard. After I had chaired the plain-packaging report, I've got to say that I went hard on the tobacco companies in all of my media interviews and everything I did because I had been a victim of the tobacco companies. Over the years I've developed very slight asthma from smoking. It's my own fault, but I don't want to see that harm being done to other people. During the 2013 campaign a whole range of money was donated. In 2012-13 Philip Morris donated in total $107,000 to the Liberal and National parties. The donations included $45,000 to the Liberal Party's federal branch, $25,000 to the National Party's federal arm and $6,100 to the Liberal Party division in the seat of Hindmarsh, to my opponent. I wonder why they did that. They didn't donate to any other seats; just to the seat of Hindmarsh. Maybe it had something to do with me making statements, claims and speeches in this place and the very antitobacco views that I have. Maybe that was it. This just shows you how the big tobacco companies operate. I think the plain packaging legislation that was brought in was a great measure. It was a great measure in terms of ensuring that our young people, who the packaging was marketed at, wouldn't take up smoking. I seek leave to table the media report about Philip Morris tossing $100,000 into the coalition coffers, which was printed on 4 February 2014.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): Is leave granted?

Leave not granted.

Mr GEORGANAS: That would be right. Leave wouldn't be granted, because you wouldn't want the Australian public to see, individually, where they donated money and how much money was donated. It's about time the coalition—the Liberal Party and The Nationals—stopped putting money into their war chest from tobacco companies. This is an area that must be stopped as soon as possible. I would like to see the Prime Minister come out with a statement saying that he will ban all his party members and his political party arms from accepting donations from tobacco companies.