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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2444

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral12.23) - This is a matter upon which people will have different views. It is to be expected that they will have different views. One could discuss the matter at great length. Some people might have their views changed; they might recognise the weight in another point of view but, nevertheless, find that there is some compensating reason why they feel it should not change their minds. It is all very much a subjective matter as to what are the best words to use to convey the impact. The Government started off with the expression which the Labor Party now wants to put back in, namely 'The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health'. The Government eventually discarded those words for shorter words which it felt were more emphatic - 'Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard'.

In the circumstances people can have their choice. I suppose there are only 3 reasonable alternatives which you could have to impress the authority with which the announcment is made. You could have the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Government, or medical authorities. The Government's thinking, on reflection and after there had been opportunity for discussion within the Government, was that the National Health and Medical Research Council, eminent and distinguished as it is, is not an organisation which is known, I would have thought, to most Australians.

Most of them might ask, if they were confronted with an announcement mentioning the National Health and Medical Research Council, what is that body. They would think it would be a prestigious body. There is no question about that. They would imagine it was highly staffed with good doctors. There is no question about that. But it is still not a body that is known. If the word 'Government' were used half the community, or almost half the community, would say that nothing that the Government does is any good anyway. That might have an impact to make it not the best form of words to use.

Therefore, the Government suggests the term 'medical authorities'. That is really the basis of our case against cigarette smoking. It is what medical authorities throughout the world have indicated and we think, therefore, that these are the best words to use. Whether we use the warning Smoking is a health hazard' or 'Cigarette smoking is dangerous to health', medical authorities throughout the world have different slants on this question and place their emphases in different ways. The impact of the words 'Smoking is a health hazard' is just as effective as that of 'Cigarette smoking is a danger to health', and probably just as accurate. But, as I have said, it is a matter of choice for honourable senators. They can play around with these words and alter them to meet the wishes of what might be a temporary majority in this chamber. We should have regard to the fact that whatever form of words is used the impact must be made, and the shorter the form, the more succinct the expression and the greater the emphasis is likely to be.

A second amendment is involved in the notices which have been circulated by the Opposition. If the amendment before the Committee is carried, the words proposed could not be stated in 3 seconds - it would take 5 seconds. The original proposal in the Bill was altered from 5 seconds to 3 seconds because the new form of words was shorter. I think the 2 proposals are inextricably mixed and I seek leave to have both of the amendments considered and voted on in the one debate.

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