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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 328

Senator McLUCAS (QueenslandParliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers) (11:46): I start by thanking senators for their contributions to the debate on this Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amend­ment Bill 2010. The passage of this bill is another important step towards reducing the national smoking rate to 10 per cent of the population by 2018 and halving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rate in that time—the goal of our government. Since the passage of the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act in 1992, the use of the internet and other electronic means as advertising mediums has become increasingly widespread. 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.

The amendments we are dealing with today will 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 comment of the member for Boothby during the passage of the legislation through the other place when he said:

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 absolutely correct. There is still more to be done. I encourage him to start by looking in his own backyard. Let him start by getting the Liberal Party to break its own expensive habit with big tobacco. Let us recall that in 2009-10 the Liberal Party accepted over $292,000 from big tobacco in political donations. In 2008-09, the Liberal Party accepted nearly $300,000 from big tobacco. That is over half a million pieces of silver from big tobacco swelling the coffers of the Liberal Party. Half a million dollars may be the price for this opposition for hire, but what is the price paid by the many thousands of Australians who have died as a result of smoking? Even their own side have been finding them embarrassing. The Premier of Western Australia supports the Labor position of not accepting donations from big tobacco. The position of the opposition on tobacco controls lacks legitimacy and I am afraid is an embarrassment.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells attempted to attack the former Minister for Health and Ageing, Ms Roxon, in her contribution. I thought her attack somewhat hollow. Let us recall the recognition that Minister Roxon has received from the Australian anti-smoking community and internationally as a result of her extraordinary leadership around the question of tobacco control. She received the Nigel Gray Medal, awarded every two years by the Australian tobacco control community to recognise an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to tobacco control. She also received the World Health Organisation Director-General's Special Recognition Certificate recognising Minister Roxon's unwavering leadership in the field of health which described the proposal to introduce plain packaging as a bold and breakthrough approach. They are not awards given lightly and they are awards given to a minister we have had in a government that is committed to preventative health in this nation and particularly through limiting the use of tobacco products.

Our government is committed to imple­menting comprehensive strategies to further reduce smoking rates in Australia. These reforms put Australia at the forefront of international action on tobacco control and build our commitment to world-first legislation to mandate plain packaging of tobacco products by July 2012; a 25 per cent increase in tobacco excise from 29 April 2010; a record $85 million investment in anti-tobacco social marketing, including a $61 million campaign launched on 30 January showing that every cigarette you smoke brings cancer closer; access to nicotine patches through the PBS; and a $5 million investment in Quitline services. I am afraid the choice could not be starker; the choice could not be easier. I commend this bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.