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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8714

Tobacco Plain Packaging


Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (14:26): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney-General update the House about Australia's world-leading plain-packaging legislation?


Ms ROXON (GellibrandAttorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management) (14:26): I thank the member for La Trobe. I do indeed have some good news for the House: today the highest court in the country has confirmed legislation that was passed by this parliament. That means that Australians will no longer be subjected to tobacco being sold in packaging which is attractive to young people and which entices them to take up what is a deadly and addictive habit. This decision is good news for every parent who worries about their child taking up this habit. I think that it is a good thing for Australia now to be leading the world as the first country to mandate plain packaging of all tobacco products.

I thought it would be timely to reflect on what has been a long battle with the big tobacco companies. This House would remember the billboards and advertising campaigns that big tobacco took out. Just as an example, I have one that was used. It reads: 'Will plain packaging costs taxpayers billions of dollars?' Of course the court, in deciding today that this was a constitutional act of this parliament, has answered the question tobacco companies asked when they took out an ad, put up billboards and donated money to the Liberal Party—when they said, 'Do not let the taxpayer foot the bill for a bad bill.'

Mr Dutton interjecting

Ms ROXON: I think it would interest the House and the public to know that not only was the law upheld but the big tobacco companies have been ordered to pay the legal costs of the Commonwealth.

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

Mr Dutton interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Dickson is warned!

Ms ROXON: This time, for the first time, it is big tobacco's turn to cough up. It will not be taxpayers who are footing the bill for this; it will quite rightly be big tobacco. I am intrigued, to be honest, that those opposite would be interjecting on this. This is a bill that the opposition supported, although they were dragged kicking and screaming. I know there are members opposite who believe that this is an important public health measure. Unfortunately, they are not among those on the front bench, who are interjecting about this matter.

We now know—and this is an important message—that governments can stand up to big tobacco and win. This is an important message not just in Australia but around the world as other countries decide what is the right tobacco control measure for them. When they say, 'We can't take this action because big tobacco will bully us or outspend us,' we will have proved them wrong. I am delighted to be able to say that the High Court has supported this piece of important legislation.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Before I call the member for Wannon, I will say that he is resplendent in his Richmond tie. He will get the call once I recognise, very cheekily, Brendan Gale, the CEO of the Tigers, and Evelyn Danos, the No. 1 ticketholder, who are here for a function tonight that the member for Wannon is holding for our great Richmond Football Club. There is complete bias from the chair!