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Wednesday, 31 May 2000
Page: 16625

Dr WOOLDRIDGE (Minister for Health and Aged Care) (9:34 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to present this bill which highlights the government's continuing commitment to minimising the harm caused by tobacco smoking in Australia. Tobacco consumption continues to be a major burden on Australian society. Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death and disease in Australia. The use of tobacco costs the Australian community $12.7 billion a year and around 18,000 Australians die every year because of smoking related illnesses.

In light of the continuing impact of tobacco consumption on Australia's health, the government believes the time has come to end all association of tobacco sponsorship and sport in this country. Tobacco advertising and sponsorship have been banned from domestic sporting competitions since 1992; however, major international sporting and cultural events can apply for an exemption to this ban.

When the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 was introduced, some exceptions were specified to ensure a moderate introduction of tobacco advertising bans in Australia. One of the most well-known exceptions to the ban is the section 18 exemption, which allows international sporting or cultural events held in Australia to have tobacco advertising provided certain conditions are met. There has never been an application for an exemption for a cultural event, and only a handful of sporting events continue to qualify for the exemption.

On the international stage, Australia is considered a world leader in tobacco control. In June 1999, the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy endorsed a National Tobacco Strategy which provides a framework for all jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, to develop their own action plans for tobacco control. The government is committed to maintaining and improving on Australia's excellent track record in tobacco control by consistently implementing new initiatives. In 1998, the European Parliament voted for a ban on tobacco advertising, including a ban to be placed on sponsorship advertising of events or activities organised at a world level. This bill before you today is consistent with the decision made by the European Parliament and introduces the same time frames.

The phase-out of all tobacco advertising in Australia also represents a major contribution to the National Tobacco Strategy.

Tobacco advertising at any sporting or cultural event after 1 October 2006 under any circumstances. There is a transitional phase-out period between 1 January 2002 and 1 October 2006. Prior to this phase-out period new events will be able to apply for a section 18 exemption. Any event to be held after the 1 January 2002 deadline will not be able to apply for an exemption. Between 1 January 2002 and 1 October 2006 events of international significance whose most recent application for exemption under section 18 was granted will be able to continue to apply for an exemption until the 1 October 2006 cut-off, provided that the event is completed before 1 October 2006. All applications received from events qualifying for consideration during the transitional phase will be assessed in the same manner as is currently provided for under section 18 of the act.

After 1 October 2006 there will be no tobacco sponsorship or advertising at any sporting or cultural event in Australia. However, I am confident that event organisers will be working towards securing alternative sponsorship prior to the 2006 deadline. In the meantime I will continue to strengthen the restrictions applying to each event to ensure the public's exposure to the remaining forms of tobacco advertising is kept to a minimum.

This bill represents several years of negotiation with international motor sport, particularly the FIA—the Federation Internationale d'Automobile—and the international Grand Prix Corporation. Australia, because of its relative geographic isolation, was always subject to being held hostage or to ransom by losing such events, a condition that was not placed on European countries. We have been able to negotiate an arrangement whereby with these time frames international motor sport has given undertakings that Australia will not be placed at any disadvantage in future negotiations, because it gives them time to arrange alternate sponsors.

This bill deserves the support of all members of the House. It will break the few remaining links between international sport and tobacco in Australia. The bill has received strong support from the health community, and it will provide the opportunity for all Australians to enjoy major international events even more, since they will no longer be associated with tobacco.

I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum to the bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Horne) adjourned.