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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2407

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) - Firstly let me answer the question that Senator Carrick asked me in particular. It is fortunate that I have documented my attitude to the advertising of cigarettes, alcohol and analgesics in a minority report to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. My attitude is documented clearly. It is not an attitude which I have developed tonight in opposition to what Senator Carrick has said. My reservation on advertising was this:

The Committee's recommendation does not go far enough. Sufficient evidence was received to show that the self-regulation of the drug industry was not to be trusted and that the intention of Government regulations were and will continue to be ignored. The promotion to the public of drugs of abuse greatly leads to their becoming socially acceptable especially to the young and this promotion should be discontinued. My conclusion is that a ban be placed on all TV and radio advertising of all pharmaceuticals, including minor analgesics, tobacco and alcohol and that the co-operation of States be invited to limit all other forms of advertising not under Commonwealth control.

Senator Marriott - Is that Labor Party policy?

Senator GEORGES - I am speaking for myself at the moment. I will speak for the Australian Labor Party in a moment. Having spent 18 months investigating drug abuse in this country, it was fairly clear to me that there was a high level of drug abuse in this country. The report supports that statement. The main drug of abuse was alcohol. If one is to take action against cigarettes one must be consistent and also be emphatic that alcohol be included. But tonight we are dealing with only one form of drug abuse - cigarette smoking. I agree with Senator Carrick-

Senator Bishop - If the honourable senator keeps that up he will win Senator Carrick over.

Senator GEORGES - He will not win me over. I doubt whether I will win him over.

Senator Carrick - Does the honourable senator's position differ from the position I have taken?

Senator GEORGES - The position that Senator Carrick has taken tonight is virtually one that does not accept the proposition that society, as a whole, ought to accept a responsibility to impose certain limitations for the good of the community. He feels that the individual can still be trusted to carry out his own controls. It is fairly evident that that is not the correct position, especially when one looks at the high level of drug abuse in this country.

Senator Carrick - Does the honourable senator's attitude differ from my attitude on diagnosis of alcohol, tobacco and analgesics?

Senator GEORGES - I do not differ from the honourable senator on the danger these drugs pose to the community. I differ on the method by which we should lower the level of drug abuse in the community. 1 am saying that these drugs are dangerous to the community and have been proven so. Research has been carried out in depth, especially in relation to cigarette smoking. The findings of our leading medical authorities are that there ought not to be promotion of cigarettes. They have recommended that there ought not to be promotion of the other drugs either. But we are dealing with one drug, so we should confine ourselves to cigarette smoking, knowing that in my mind and in Senator Carrick's mind alcohol and the analgesics are in the same classification.

Senator Carrick - Does Labor Party policy cover the 3 equally?

Senator GEORGES - No, our policy does not cover the 3. The policy of the Australian Labor Party at present is stated in the Platform, Constitution and Rules' as approved by the 29th conference. Clause 17 on page 20 states:


(a)   The development of public health and industrial medicine campaigns by the Commonwealth Department of Health in co-operation with the States.

In effect, we would do what the Government is doing at present. It is providing $500,000 to carry out these campaigns. We would be more emphatic in the application of our campaign methods. The Government seems to concentrate on health campaigns in schools and various educational groups. Our campaign would be directed towards contra advertising to show the dangers of these drugs of abuse. However, the policy of the Australian Labor Party on cigarette and tobacco advertising is firm. It states:

(b)   Prohibition of cigarette and tobacco advertising in all forms coupled with a vigorous campaign to educate the public, especially young people, on the serious health hazards associated with cigarettes and tobacco.

Senator Carrick - It does not refer to the banning of advertisements for the other 2 kinds of drugs.

Senator GEORGES - At the moment it does not. However, I would say that there is a strong movement within our Party, especially since some of us were involved in the investigations of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, to extend the ban. Resolutions are being brought forward in caucus from the various sections of the Party to extend the ban to other areas of drug abuse. We have become aware that the main drug of abuse, of course, is alcohol, as the report of the Committee stated. In effect, alcohol represents a greater danger than cigarette smoking because it can affect not only the individual but also other parties. A person driving under the influence of alcohol can cause considerable damage to both people and property and involve many people other than himself. However, even with cigarette smoking, there is an involvement of people other than the individual smoker because if a person is to be responsible for selfinflicted physical damage, he imposes a strain upon the community. The cigarette smoker at one time may not only require the sophisticated skills of a surgeon but may also occupy valuable hospital space that is needed for another reason. This problem is self-inflicted.

Senator Carrick - And affects the foetus in pregnancy.

Senator GEORGES - Yes. In that case it goes beyond the individual to some future generation. While we accept the dangers; we do not accept the method. The Government accepts that the individual must be responsible for his own controls. We say that the individual is not in a position to protect himself, especially when he is young and uninformed, against the promotion of cigarette companies, pharmaceutical companies and other companies that produce drugs of abuse. The young person is not able to resist the promotion by which, as the companies have said, they are seeking to establish their share of the market.

Senator Rae - What is your attitude to marihuana?

Senator GEORGES - I will get to marihuana in a moment. A statement has been made which must be cleared up. The companies say that they are seeking their share of the market but, by their promotions to achieve that share, they are also expanding the use of a particular drug. One recalls just how quickly cigarette smoking was accepted by women in the United States. One recalls the promotion that was used by the Lucky Strike company to extend smoking in the United States. That company used a rather effective advertisement which stated: 'Don't reach for a sweet; reach for a Lucky'. In effect, the company was pushing, promoting and peddling cigarettes as a means of reducing weight. This method is still used and cigarettes are still promoted as a means of reducing weight.

The companies say that they are forced to promote and to advertise. However, we say that the companies should not be permitted to promote and, in fact, to peddle cigarettes. We say that the promotion of cigarette advertising should be reduced. We say that cigarette smoking should be made socially unacceptable. The social acceptability of smoking is the reason for its spread. If a person wished to become socially acceptable within certain social groups and if he wanted to have a nice, big car and be a prosperous businessman with all the associated advantages of company and the rest of it, he would smoke a particular type of cigarette.

Senator Carrick - But apply that to Russia and China and other high smoking countries.

Senator GEORGES - I accept that there is a high level of alcohol abuse in Russia and that there is a high level of smoking in Russia. But let me make the point-

Senator Marriott - Socialism probably causes that.

Senator GEORGES - No, it is not that at all.

Senator Carrick - I am deadly serious.

Senator GEORGES - I am serious also. Wherever one goes in Russia one can purchase cigarettes and whisky or any other form of alcohol.

Senator Carrick - But there is no advertising.

Senator GEORGES - It is readily available.

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

Senator GEORGES - Alcohol and cigarettes are subjected to high impulse buying methods in Russia. They can be purchased at every turn. Wherever one goes - to a snack bar or any other place - one can buy a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of Vat 69 whisky. They are readily available. Perhaps alcohol and cigarettes are used as an escape from certain of the social pressures that the Russians experience. We also have social pressures. I admit that the rate of use of alcohol and cigarettes in Russia may be increasing. But it should be remembered that the Russians started from a lower base than that from which we started.

It should be understood that the pressure for cigarette advertising comes not only from the tobacco companies but also from the advertising firms and the commercial radio and television stations. It is my belief that this pressure should be reduced in some way. I believe that we should reduce the economic pressure which is placed upon a radio or television station to accept such advertisements in order to survive. The radio and television stations know that if cigarette or drug advertising were to be banned their incomes would be seriously affected. The advertising and promotional companies also know that. It is their pressure, possibly more than that of the drug firms - I include in that the tobacco companies - that is resisting a reduction in or a banning of cigarette advertising. There was an inquiry into drug abuse in the Canadian State of Saskatchewan, where there is no advertising of alcohol. The alcohol companies were asked whether advertising would be of any advantage to them. They said that it would be of no advantage to them. In fact, cigarette advertising in the United States became of no advantage to the cigarette companies when contra advertising was permitted. The thing that the cigarette companies feared greatly in the United States was not the ban on cigarette advertising but the compulsory contra advertising. It was for that reason that the cigarette companies accepted the ban on cigarette advertising in the .United States. They were afraid of the contra advertising.

I take it from the fact that the Commonwealth will provide $500,000 a year for 3 years for an education programme aimed at informing the public of the dangers to health of cigarette smoking that the Government is not prepared to accept a complete ban on cigarette advertising. It ..should at least force a situation where the companies themselves will begin to withdraw from this type of promotion. If the Government .were prepared to spend money on advertising warnings on television and radio on the programmes on which cigarettes are advertised and if the health authorities were prepared to publish the truth as to the results of the research that has been carried out on the dangers and hazards of cigarette smoking, the effect would be the same.' As a matter of fact I might be prepared to admit that it may be even more effective. However, I believe that there is a need to reduce the promotion of all types of drugs of abuse, including cigarettes.

If the economic pressure imposed by advertising firms on the media is preventing us from reducing the promotion of these goods by advertising, we ought to look at some way in which alternative income could flow to the media in the interim period during which they might lose income. I suggest that that could be done simply. As any ban on cigarette advertising would affect advertising companies as Well as radio and television stations, we should look to some means - by which the media could be subsidised. That is nothing new. lt is not something that has . not- been requested before. Commercial radio stations have demanded that they should receive some share of the money raised from licensing fees, and I am inclined to agree with that. If there is to be a high standard of advertising on commercial television , and radio, then those stations must be economically secure. If the banning pf the advertising of drugs of abuse, including cigarettes is introduced, then in all fairness we ought to ensure that the media are not in some way affected. 1 want quickly to move to another point. Some time ago I was quite concerned to find out how strong the lobby of the tobacco companies was within political parties, especially within the Liberal Party. Tobacco companies, in order to protect their position, have co-opted ex-members of Parliament whom they have considered to be useful to their cause. The first article that attracted attention to this matter was one Which appeared in 'Inside Canberra', volume 23, No. 41, of 15th October 1970. Under the heading Tobacco ads still immune' the article states:

The Government shows no sign of acceding to increasing medical demands for limitations on advertising of cigarettes.

The 2 principle reasons for the Government's resistance to pressure from the National Health and Medical Research Council and spokesmen for non-Government medical bodies wishing to see cigarette advertising restricted are the number of Country Party seats that could be affected by antagonising tobacco growers and the strength of the tobacco lobby within the Liberal Party.

There is a similar lobby within the Labor Party, especially from members who represent tobacco growing areas in Queensland. This lobby brings effective pressure to bear on members representing their areas for a particular reason, and I believe that it is not in the interests of the health of the community. The article continues:

The tobacco lobby has become increasingly active at Canberra in recent years.

It was very active about a fortnight ago when this Bill was going through the other place. One of the people whose name is mentioned in this article was active in the corridors of this place. Tobacco companies are using a frontal lobby that ought to be exposed and resisted. The article continues:

Originally it comprised Mr W. S. Bengtsson, a former research officer of the Liberal Party and later a member of the party's higher councils. Mr Bengtsson ls now Director of Public Relations for British Tobacco (Aust.) Ltd.

Senator Carrick - On a point of order, Senator Georges would not know this, but Mr Bengtsson died some months ago. I think that that should be make known. Obviously, he is no longer active in this field.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - There is no point of order.

Senator GEORGES - 1 am sorry to hear of Mr Bengtsson's death. I am not reflecting on Mr Bengtsson; I am merely reflecting on the tobacco companies. Mr Bengtsson had the right to use his skills and talents to his own advantage. In any case, it is important to see just what is happening in this area because what is happening in the Liberal Party may also be happening in other parties.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I ask Senator Georges to keep to the provisions of the Bill.

Senator GEORGES - I am indicating why the amendment has been introduced. The article in 'Inside Canberra' continues:

Since 1966 his principal assistant in the political field has been Mr C. W. J. Falkinder, who ceased to be Liberal member for Franklin (Tas.) just before the 1966 election.

Mr Falkinderwas active in the corridors of this Parliament a fortnight ago. As an ex-member Mr Falkinder has privileges in this place. He has the freedom of the lobbies, but he ought not to misuse the freedom of the lobbies.

Senator Marriott - Has Mr Dedman the freedom of this place?

Senator GEORGES - He is an exmember of this Parliament. All I am saying is that ex-members of Parliament have rights.

Senator Little - You are not suggesting anything illegal? They are entitled to suggest things to members if they wish.

Senator Marriott - You are trying a bit of character assassination.

Senator GEORGES - Character assassination does not come into it at all. I am merely stating the facts of the case. Exmembers of Parliament have taken on jobs as public relations men and lobbyists for the tobacco companies.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Georges, keep more closely to the provisions of the Bill.

Senator GEORGES - Because of pressure exerted by Mr Falkinder on behalf of the tobacco companies of this country this Government altered and watered down its own amendment to make ineffective the legislation it had introduced. To my mind there is a connection in this. I point out that ex-members of Parliament enjoy privileges in this place and they should not misuse them to seek to have legislation amended on behalf of companies by whom they are employed. It should not be accepted that these people should use their previous position to the advantage of outside concerns whether the ex-members happen to be members of the Labor Party, Liberal Party, Country Parly or any other party. lt is not in the best interests of good government.

In the past 1 2 months the British Tobacco Company's public relations staff has been augmented by the appointment of Mr W. Bridges-Maxwell, who lost his Liberal seat of Robertson in New South Wales at the 1969 election. Irrespective of the health needs of the community the tobacco companies - taken as a group or individually - are determined to resist any legislation that might limit their operations. For this reason they take action to have friends in the right places. How much better can they do this when the Liberal-Country Party coalition is in government than to employ ex-members of Parliament as public relations officers or as lobbyists because these ex-members have access not only to the Parliament and the parliamentary parties but also to the high council of the Liberal Party. I point out that it does not matter to which party these ex-members of Parliament belong; such a situation should not be permitted especially in this area which concerns the health of the whole community.

The Labor Party does not oppose this legislation because even the little that it does is a move forward. But our own experts should not be ignored. In evidence given before the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse the Deputy Director-General of Health, in answer to a question, said clearly that cigarette smoking was the greatest cause of morbidity and death in the community. If our experts say this and clearly recommend the complete ban of cigarette advertising, we ought to listen to them, even if it is to the economic disadvantage of the tobacco companies and advertising concerns. The health of the individual in the community is at risk. Sufficient research has been carried out into cigarette smoking. Further research would be no more conclusive than the evidence at present. If the resarch has been carried out and recommendations have come down, those recommendations should be accepted. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Government refuses to accept the recommendations of its own experts.' I cannot understand why the Government refuses to accept the inevitable unless it is because of undue influence brought to bear on the Government parties by these tremendous vested interests.

Have honourable senators seen recently the most provocative, incisive and aggresive type of cigarette advertising by one particular firm? It virtually says: ' If you cannot afford to buy one, borrow ohe. If you cannot borrow one, have one of mine'. This is the incisive, pressure type of advertising used to peddle - nothing more or less--a drug of abuse which does as much harm to the individual as alcohol, and firm action ought to be taken. I regret that the Government has not taken more effective action because it is a long and hard road to reduce the social acceptability of the use of drugs of abuse.

It is argued that the banning of cigarette advertising in the United States did not immediately reduce the increase in cigarette smoking, but it did considerably slow it down and it is too early to know the result; it will take a long time. The reduction of the promotion of cigarettes - the reason for this Bill - is vital to the position of young people in the community. They ought not to be subjected to the promotion of cigarettes by advertising. It ought to be removed from their province so that it will have no opportunity to influence them. In future generations cigarette smoking will be reduced. It will not be socially acceptable but will be recognised for the dirty vice that it is. I should have called it a dirty and dangerous vice.

Senator Poyser - I will have to give it up now.

Senator GEORGES - I hope that you do, because I object to my friends smoking. I hate to have to waste my sympathy on them in the future. I have stated my case and I will now allow Senator Little an opportunity to follow me.

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