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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2404

Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) - I support the legislation before the Senate and I oppose the amendment proposed by the Opposition. I do so on the grounds that we are seeking tonight, by this legislation, essentially to provide to the public a warning that the excess ingestion of tobacco products can be dangerous to health, that this is our responsibility as a Parliament and that the banning of advertising in itself is not the answer. Had we known at the time of Sir Walter Raleigh what our scientists know now perhaps we would not have legalised tobacco. But we start on the basis that the production of tobacco leaf, its processing by manufacture and its consumption are fully legal here and everywhere in the world. We start on the assumption that the acceptance of the continued legality of those processes is uniform on both sides of this Parliament. I think it is important to have in mind that the Opposition does not at all suggest that the growing, manufacture or consumption of tobacco should be banned. It should be legal.

I accept, although there are some who challenge, that body of medical science which puts forward the theory that the excessive consumption of tobacco particularly in the form of cigarette tobacco is conducive to cardiovascular disease and pulmonary disease, particularly emphysema. I accept that, although there are some grounds for controversy. I emphasise the excess consumption, because there is a body of scientific opinion which puts a level which is regarded as. reasonably safe, which puts levels , of tar content as minimising the dangers and which suggests that pipes and cigars , are. not the dangers that cigarettes are. Nobody - not the Opposition, the Government or anybody in the .world-r-is seeking to. . suggest that tobacco should be banned., In any case, I presume that this would be, an impracticability. You could not do it . because it is now so socially intertwined in the community. I do so on the basis that the emphasis by the medical and scientific professions is on excessive use and not just use, and on cigarette consumption more than on consumption of other products..

It seems to me that it is consistent with every other step this community has taken in respect of every other product which we permit to be manufactured and sold legally that we do not ban its advertising on the ground that it is dangerous. However, where we are of the belief or where there is scientific proof that there is an element of danger, a health risk, we do 2 things. Firstly, we put upon1 1 the product such a warning and, secondly, we place the onus which now rests upon the public sector of the community, upon governments and the medical profession who issue separate, warnings to the public that the excessive consumption of .these products could be dangerous.

If we were to decide that a total ban should be placed on this legal product we would be taking a unique step by saying on the one hand that it is legal and on the other that we will ban it. But we would then be doing something which would do no good anyhow. It would do harm because it would pretend to do good. There is a great danger in mouthing words and thinking we will do good. I remind the Senate that in Russia, the ideal socialist state so I am told, there is no advertising at all of tobacco, alcohol or any other product. Nevertheless, the consumption of tobacco and alcohol in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is amongst the highest in the world. The per capita consumption of alcohol is perhaps the highest in the world. And in the USSR there is a total absence of advertising.

Senator Georges - He is not quoting any figures.

Senator CARRICK - Senator Georges will be speaking in this debate. I shall listen to him in silence as I always do. I have never thought that noise from the sidelines was a substitute for argument except in Melbourne football. So we have as a classic example the case not only of Russia but also that of China. I could state many other countries in which there is no advertising al all but where the ingestion of these kinds of drugs is as high or is higher than it is anywhere else in the world.

I see the problem of excess tobacco ingestion as being much the same problem as the excess consumption of alcohol and drugs and particularly analgesics. I ask the Opposition: Is it its policy to ban only the advertising of tobacco or is it its policy to ban all parallel products which are health hazards if consumed in excess? Medical science is equally as strong in its assertion that the excess consumption of alcohol, not only in the creation of a quarter of a million known total alcoholics in this country but also in its contribution to many other evils, is at least equally as bad as tobacco.

Senator Georges - We agree.

Senator CARRICK - Then I ask the Opposition: Is it its policy to ban the advertising of alcohol as such?

Senator Georges - May I answer him? May I take the opportunity to answer the question?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Senator Georges, please be seated.

Senator CARRICK - Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I think it was Hamlet who said that 'the rest is silence'. I can corrupt this when applying it to the Opposition by saying that silence is rest. I ask Opposition senators to state, when they speak in this debate, whether they propose that their policy shall be to ban all advertising of alcohol and its products, all advertising of analgesics and all advertising of drugs. And I ask them also: Do they propose in caucus to impose a total ban on their Party members who publicly and with utter irresponsibility, as members of the Australian Labor Party, advocate the legalisation of marihuana? As Shakespeare said, the Devil could cite scripture for his purpose. We have tonight the basic situation of the Opposition saying that we should ban the advertising of tobacco while a very vocal and uncontradicted section of the Opposition, being what I would call wantonly irresponsible, advocates to the public and particularly to the young people that they should go ahead and smoke marihuana. Is it not a fact that members of the Australian Labor Party and of the parliamentary Labor Party, uncontradicted in a Party whose policy is shaped by caucus and in the spelling out-

Senator Poke - It is not. Let him speak the truth. If he does he will be heard uninterrupted.

Senator CARRICK - I ask whether there have been numerous statements by Dr Cass and other members of the Labor Party advocating the legalisation of marihuana. Is the Labor Party, consistent with its policy, willing tonight to reject those statements and will the Labor Party senators condemn Dr Cass?

Senator Poke - No. Why should we?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! There are too many interjections.

Senator CARRICK - With or without the help from the Opposition I will have freedom of speech. There is no need for Opposition senators to help in this regard. Is it not a fact that Dr Cass and Senator Wheeldon have, unimpeded, advocated the smoking of marihuana and that no member of the Labor Party has condemned such advocacy as being antipathetic to the policy which the Opposition now puts forward? Or do we say that the policy put forward by Senator Douglas McClelland tonight is purely his policy or that it is consistent with the Opposition's policy? If we are to approach the question of chemicals which can through excess ingestion damage health we should be consistent in our approach. In the past where we have not banned such products we have accepted them as legal products we have done 2 things. One thing we have done is to put a warning on the product as we did when we dealt with the phenacetin content of 'APC powders, as we did with the bromide content of sedatives and as we did with analgesics. We may have to go further. I will go along with that course of action. But we have not seen fit to ban those products.

The Federal Government has a responsibility for 2 media which under section 92 of the Constitution cross State boundaries - radio and television - and we are acting upon those. If it is felt at a conference of State and Federal Health Ministers that the extension of the warning should go to magazine and newspaper advertising then by a consortium of Federal and State Ministers that extension can properly be made. That would be recognising the legality of a product but at the same time putting a warning from a public authority on that product. I remind the Senate that the Federal Government proposes to allocate $500,000 a year - not a small sum - for 3 years in this respect.

That sum is capable of escalation, capable of being advocated in escalation to the public warning on this matter. To me this is the most important thing of all. When the Opposition responds on its stated policy of the total banning of all advertising of tobacco, I take it that that will mean advertising literally down to signs on kiosks, signs on billboards, the whole question of leaflets, door to door gimmicks and indeed the promotion of sporting and other fixtures. Is that the total ban proposed by the Labor Party? We must try to seek out these things.

I make my position clear. I support the Government. As cigarette smoking is legal, as there are no prospects of its being rendered illegal, as there are grounds to prove, or at least to suggest strongly, that excessive consumption is dangerous, I believe that tobacco should be treated as we treat all other such chemicals. I want to go further. Some time ago in the Senate, by way of question and by way of speech, 1 suggested to the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) that the right approach to this and other subjects allied to it was that we should undertake major research into causation, that prevention or prophylaxis in this situation is considerably more important than cure. I am emphatic about this. I have expressed here before my great concern - indeed this concern has been echoed strongly by the medical profession - at the enormous growth of psychosomatic illness in the community, the illness caused by stress.

In any general practitioner's surgery on any day somewhere between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of all patients seen have illnesses caused by psychosomatic reasons, that is, by stress-induced causes. That being so, we are seeing a community which is seeking sedation, tranquillisation and escape as such, and tobacco, alcohol, analgesics and drugs are all part of this. I make a strong plea to this Parliament that we should, in addition to the programme we are conducting, undertake in this country in all of our universities and elsewhere massive research into the causation of these things so that we can approach this problem from the aspect of prevention rather than cure.

None of us knows causation. Indeed, the elementary suggestions are that smoking is an extension of the ordinary instinct of suckling. The other suggestion is that it is stronger in bottle fed babies than in breast fed babies. There are all sorts of theories but we know very little about this subject. I suggest that the next step allied to this programme should be post graduate research into the whole question of corelated drugs - the tobaccos, the alcohols, the analgesics and the other drugs. We should try to find out why we are seeking excessively to consume these products. We need to ascertain how we can best create a community that does not need those and other things such as worry beads and fumble stones, but instead can take up or sublimate these energies in other ways.

Therefore I support the measure. I commend the advertising programme which is projected to cost half a million dollars a year. I urge upon the Commonwealth Government that it consider in the future an extension of this into post graduate research into causation.

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