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Tuesday, 31 May 1994
Page: 909

Senator LEES —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Human Services and Health. I remind the minister that today is World No Tobacco Day and note Dr Lawrence's statement that she is not inclined to grant the Australian Formula One Grand Prix an exemption to advertise tobacco products again. I ask the minister, firstly, whether she can give a categoric assurance to us that there will be no tobacco advertising of any form in any future formula one grand prix. Secondly, in recognition of the 60 Australians who die each day of tobacco related diseases, will the government take action to remove the power of the minister to grant exemptions under the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act? Finally, does the minister agree that the evidence against the advertising of tobacco products is now so compelling that there should be a total ban on it and that the sponsorship of sport by tobacco manufacturers should be terminated immediately?

Senator CROWLEY —I thank Senator Lees for her question, which acknowledges World Tobacco Day. It is quite clear that the government recognises—

  Opposition senators—World No Tobacco Day.

Senator CROWLEY —I thank honourable senators very much; I appreciate their assistance in this matter—World No Tobacco Day. That is a point to those opposite, so we will cop it sweet. It is the day that is acknowledged by the world—by governments, communities and everybody else—to draw attention to the harmful effects of tobacco and its use, and to assist in the campaign to stop people using it. This government is quite clear in its position about how damaging is the use of tobacco, and in recognising the ill health effects of tobacco and the campaign against that.

  In case that position is in doubt, Dr Lawrence made that position quite clear in the House of Representatives yesterday. It is interesting to note that the opposition has a spokesperson who is not clear what the opposition's view about smoking is. If Mrs Bishop does not smoke, then after Carmen Lawrence's answer yesterday she must be fuming.

  Opposition senators—Oh!

Senator CROWLEY —Thanks very much troops! Good on you; that is right! In answer to Senator Lees's question, what happens is that when there is an application to the minister for an exemption, the minister examines each case on its merits. I cannot pre-empt what the minister will decide, if and when any application for exemption comes in.

  As to the second part of the question about whether or not we should move to a total ban, I have no indication or understanding from the minister that we will be doing that. In terms of repealing section 18, which allows the minister to grant exemptions, the intention of that is merely to protect Australia from losing sponsorship of significant international events when there will be a possible loss of revenue to this country. I have no advice that there is any intention to change the act in regard to this matter.

  As to whether or not we should move to a total ban, it is clearly a matter for further considered community attitude and discussion. I think the points Senator Lees has raised and drawn to our attention are very important. The government's attitude in general is made very clear. If there is anything further the minister would like to add to those points, I will make sure Senator Lees gets it.