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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) problems with the feed. That

was the Prime Minister Kevin

Rudd addressing a business

breakfast in Sydney this

morning. We will cross to

Canberra and we are chatting to

the Independent Senator Nick

Xenophon. He is joining us from

the ABC's Adelaide newsroom,

sorry. Senator Xenophon, good morning. Good morning. The

big story is the government's

proposed changes to cigarette

packaging. We have heard

reports that the Greens and Steve Fielding will support

that legislation. Can you

confirm that you will too?

Yes, I can. I am surprised at

the Coalition's stand on this, I'm not sure what they have been smoking to come up with their position in relation to

this. If this will reduce the

rate of smoking, if it will

mean fewer people ending up in

our hospitals with emphysema

and other associated lung

diseases, it is unambiguously a

good thing. My free PR advice

to the tobacco industry is if

big tobacco thinks they are

unpopular, wait for the public

backlash if they decide to take

this on in the courts. To be

fair to the Opposition, they

are saying at this same stage

they have not decided whether

they will support the

legislation. I would have

thought it would have been a no

brainr. I can understand why

Tony Abbott says that

oppositions are not there to

make the life of government

easy, but in terms of a very

fundamental public health

policy to reduce smoking rates,

this is a good thing, and one

of the criticisms of the government's health reform

package is that it does not

have enough emphasis on

preventative health. This is

clearly something that is about

preventing people taking up

smoking and developing diseases

in the longer term. I would

urge the Coalition to get on board sooner rather than

later. Would you support an

increase in the tax on

cigarettes? I think an

increase in the tax is

inevitable. It's a good thing

but it's important that any

increase in the tax, you see

the revenue hypothecated to

measures such as nicotine

replacement therapy, extra

resources for the Quit campaign. It is extraordinary

in South Australia, and it may

occur nationally, that they

don't have the fund to staff

the Quit campaign hotline on

Sundays and public holidays

because of wage costs. I don't

think that is reasonable, given

the revenue the government gets

from tobacco excise. What

about the complaint that

smokers are hit unfairly, and

smokers are saying that

changing the packaging won't

make any difference to them.

That is why it is important to

redouble our efforts in terms

of the Quit campaign. The

research I have seen shows that

if you have nicotine

replacement therapy, offered

for free as part of counsel and

other Singapore, you can

increase the chances of people

being able to quit for good,

and that is something that we

need to be looking at. This

needs to be seen as part of a

package of measures. If we

reduce Australia's smoking rate

to below 10%, that will have an

huge impact on the health

bottom line, let alone the

human cost of fewer people

getting sick. What about the

likelihood of exposing the

government to claims from

tobacco companies for loss of

intellectual property rights?

I can put my suburban lawyer's

hat on this, I don't pretend to

be a constitutional law expert,

but I would have thought there

are ways around that if the

legislation is carefully

drafted and I am sure the

government will obtain advice

from its lawyers. If this is

about a ban on advertising, because that's what the branding is on these packets,

then I would have thought it

would be constitutionally

valid. I am with people like

Professor George Williams who

says this is something that can

be done without exposing the

Commonwealth to a compensation

claim. When we hear these

stories about the changes to

cigarette packaging, we see

figures. One of the figures is

that 50% of indigenous

Australians smoke. What kind of

specific targeting should be

done to ensure that that kind

of figure can be addressed?

That figure, I think, reflects

the disgraceful state of

indigenous health and the

obligation we have as all

Australians to do everything we

can to improve indigenous

health. Any extra revenue from

an increase in the tobacco

excise we need to have targeted

and effectively campaigns in

terms of the indigenous

communities, to look at broader

communities that could lead to

smoking rates, in terms of

disadvantage advantage. It is

very important that any

increased taxes from tobacco

are use indeed a targeted way

that will make a difference to

reducing indidge nut smoking

rates, because that will be a

key measure against which the

measures will be judged.

Tobacco companies are pretty

sneaky, they are doing a lot of

quasi advertising on the net

through Facebook and other

social networking sites and we

need to look at that, to thwart

what tobacco companies are

doing there. Briefly, what do

you think of the government's

stance on climate change now?

There isn't much. I guess deconstructing it, the key

issue is this: If the

government believes their legislation is good legislation

to tackle climate change, and I

don't believe it is, I think

it's too cumbersome, expensive

and bureaucratic, they should

go to the Governor-General and

say they want the legislation

to be one of the double

dissolution triggers to get it

through the next part. If they

don't do that, you wonder about

their commitment to one of the

greatest policy challenges of

our time, because if we don't

do something now, it will be

too late in 20 or 30 years when

the effects of climate change

will be much more apparent.

Kevin Rudd's credibility is

shot on this? I don't think it's been a good week for him

on this particular issue. Nick