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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Page: 2749

Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (8:44 PM) —in reply—I thank the member for Petrie for her contribution. The Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Bill 2010 is obviously very important for the government and I know that she has been really interested and involved in a lot of health initiatives, not only the superclinic in her electorate but a whole range of others. This is one where we believe that the passage is a pretty important step towards reducing the national smoking rate, reaching our 10 per cent target for the population by 2018 and, hopefully, halving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rate, which, of course, is much higher than that of the general population.

Since the passage of the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992, the use of the internet and other electronic means as advertising mediums has become increasingly widespread, as the member for Petrie noted. Unregulated internet advertising undermines the effectiveness of the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act. It can weaken tobacco controls by allowing sales to minors, promoting smoking and permitting the purchase of cigarettes without graphic health warnings.

These amendments make it a specific offence to advertise or promote tobacco products on the internet and all other electronic media and future technologies unless compliant with state and territory legislation or Commonwealth regulations. They will also enable the making of regulations in relation to internet tobacco advertising to be similar to those placed on over-the-counter sales, and online sales will no longer be different.

I welcome the member for Boothby’s comment:

The coalition are supporting the passage of this legislation because we recognise there is more to be done in the area of preventative health and there is still more to be done in the area of tobacco control.

The member for Boothby is correct in stating that there is still more to be done, and I might encourage him to start by looking in his own backyard. It would be a good start to get the Liberal Party to break its own expensive habit with big tobacco. We know that in 2009-10 the Liberal Party accepted over $290,000 from donations from big tobacco. In 2008-09 that figure was $300,000. This is a big chunk of money which is going to the Liberal Party and we are concerned this may have an impact.

I am pleased that the Liberal Party have indicated they will support this piece of legislation. So far they have not indicated whether they will support our plain-packaging legislation, which will be introduced later this year. We do not want to be in a position where the allegation can be made that that is a case of opposition for hire. We make the very simple point that many thousands of Australians still die every year as a result of smoking and all of us can do more to make sure this number is reduced. Even members of their own political party find this situation embarrassing. I note that the Premier of Western Australia supports the Labor position of not accepting donations from big tobacco.

Our very strong view is that the government must take action in this area. That is what this bill does. We believe the opposition’s position on tobacco control lacks legitimacy and is an embarrassment to them. We remain determined and committed to implementing comprehensive strategies to further reduce smoking rates in Australia. This piece of legislation is part of our broader reforms that put Australia at the forefront of international action on tobacco control and builds on our commitment to introduce world-first legislation to mandate plain packaging of tobacco products by 1 July 2012, our 25 per cent increase in tobacco excise from 29 April last year and our record investment of $85 million in anti-tobacco social marketing campaigns, including the national campaign which was launched at the end of January this year, showing that every cigarette you smoke brings you closer to cancer. We have made access to nicotine patches available through the PBS and invested $5 million of extra support into Quitline services.

The choice here could not be starker. The choice could not be easier. This is an important additional piece of protection for Australians, at last bringing the internet and new technologies under the same remit as other forms of media. I commend this bill to the House and urge all members to support it.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.