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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 9274

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Mackellar) (18:33): In rising to speak on the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 and the Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Bill 2011, I find it necessary to put on the record that, unlike the previous speaker, no, I did not smoke at school. Yes, I did smoke at university, but I gave it up fairly soon after becoming a mother of two daughters because I felt it was adverse to my health. Rather than suffering the trials and tribulations that the member for New England seems to have experienced, I simply said one day, 'Tomorrow I will no longer smoke,' and I have not from that day to this.

In supporting the bill, I agree with the sentiments that have been expressed about smoking being bad for health. I also agree with other sentiments that people have expressed about intervention in people's lives, but I want to make this point: public policy has meant that there has been a strong advertising campaign which has been successful in reducing the percentage of the population that smokes from what it used to be, somewhat over 50 per cent, to, if my memory serves me, somewhere around 16 per cent. That has been a highly successful campaign. Equally, with regard to drink driving, we have had a very successful public policy which has meant that the incidence of people being picked up on random breath tests is now one in 170.

But the real elephant in the room is that we do not seem to take seriously the need to prevent young people in particular taking up illicit drugs. I recall that when we were in government the former minister and current Manager of Opposition Business proposed a campaign against illicit drugs which was cancelled by this current health minister and has never seen the light of day. It will perhaps shock people when I tell them that statistics broadcast this morning show that, on random testing for illicit and illegal drugs, the incidence picked up is one in 70. It is high time that we take seriously the damage that is being done to young people in particular, who become easy prey to addiction to illegal and illicit drugs, and do something about it, instead of trying to pretend that they are merely 'recreational drugs'—a term which, in my view, should be struck from the lexicon. We should have a very strong public campaign against illicit drugs and hope it is as successful as those we have had against drink driving and smoking.

The second point I wish to speak on is the question as to why we are voting against the second bill. There has been much talk about the fact that the regulation-making power can overcome primary legislation. It is indeed a very serious matter. It is known as a Henry VIII clause. When I sat on the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, we would frequently, if we thought there was a Henry VIII clause, send it back to the minister for redrafting for the simple reason that one of the first principles of that committee, which will examine this legislation, is that laws should be embraced in primary legislation and not in secondary legislation, otherwise known as subordinate legislation. I think it is interesting that in 1990 the Queensland Law Reform Commission issued a working paper under the chairmanship of Justice McPherson CBE, in which it notes that the Henry VIII clauses were so named after the monarch in disrespectful commemoration of his tendencies to absolutism. It also noted that on occasions the Supreme Court of Queensland had held that regulations were invalid as they were contrary to the intention of the legislature. But I do like the comments of Dr TP Fry contained in that report of the Queensland Law Reform Commission:

By thus upholding Parliamentary Statutes against Cabinet Regulations which sought to impose penalties which Cabinet was unable to induce Parliament to impose, the Supreme Court proved itself to be a bulwark to constitutional government.

I think that is an important message to heed. If the practice were to again be introduced, to again raise its ugly head—as it has seen flights from time to time in the history of parliaments; and I think this is the first time I have seen it in this parliament—whereby we had a practice to allow subordinate legislation to overturn a term contained in primary legislation, we would not be doing our job as legislators. It is a serious responsibility which we have and I believe we should uphold it. We should all, as legislators, oppose this legislation for this reason. The opposition will not support this legislation, because of the way in which it is so sloppily drafted, because it is, simply, a Henry VIII clause—a clause which is held in disrepute. I do not wish to see it in this parliament again.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): Before I give the call to the Hon. Minister for Health and Ageing, I would like to recognise present in the advisor's box Zac Power, who is a work experience student with the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. He is working with the parliamentary secretary this week and he is a student at Geelong High School. He is accompanied by Grant Dew, who is a member of the staff of the parliamentary secretary.