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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1562

Mr NEUMANN (1:23 PM) —I speak in support of the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Bill 2010. Growing up in a sports-mad household in Ipswich, as I did, playing rugby league, soccer, basketball and cricket, as so many of my friends did and my brothers—we were absolutely fanatics when it came to sports in my area; that is perhaps one of the reasons you see me jogging around the lake and in the gym—one of the things I remember doing when I was in high school, at what is now known as Bundamba State Secondary College, was an assignment in biology on the short-term and long-term effects of smoking on the respiratory and circulatory systems of the human body. At that particular time I recall that many of my mates in basketball and soccer smoked. Indeed, I recall that for one or two of them the last thing they did before they got on the court to play basketball was to light up a cigarette. In those days our coaches did not think anything of it. Indeed, we had sports idols smoking and promoting cigarettes.

I can recall as a young fella going to the cricket at the Gabba and seeing advertising for tobacco companies—and at Lang Park for rugby league. The rugby league Bulimba Cup games between Ipswich, Toowoomba and Brisbane usually had tobacco advertising festooned around North Ipswich Reserve, Lang Park or up at Toowoomba. You did not think anything of it. Looking back it just appalls me that we knew from the early 1950s the effect of smoking on the human body. Now we have seen the evidence from large tobacco companies in the United States before congressional committees denying their knowledge of the impact of tobacco on people’s health and the deaths caused from cancer initiated by tobacco.

We have come a long way with respect to these issues, but in so many of our trading partners in the East—in Asia, North Asia and South Asia—you can see, when you travel through them, the advertising that was common in Australia for a long time continuing over there. These tobacco companies are insidious when they target young people, vulnerable people and people who could be influenced by sports stars. They will use every form of media and every opportunity they can take to get into hearts and minds and to influence people—whether it is sports stars, media stars or even the way they do it in product placement in movies. How many heroes in our movies light up? Whether it is after acts of copulation or courage, it does not make any difference—they light up in the movies. These companies engage in those sorts of activities to promote their products. In this particular piece of legislation we are trying to close another loophole, because they will take any opportunity to promote their products in this way.

Smoking is the greatest cause of preventable death in the developed world. That is the reality. If people stopped smoking, 15,000 Australians would simply cease to die prematurely. We have made a big effort with respect to smoking in this country. I outline the fact that you no longer see the Benson & Hedges World Series Cricket and you no longer see the Winfield Cup in rugby league. You do not see tobacco company advertising festooned or labelled across football teams. You do not see it and that is terrific.

We have seen the smoking rates cut, as the minister said in her second reading speech, from 30.5 per cent in 1988 to 16.6 per cent in 2007. But we do know—the facts are there—that smoking and deaths from smoking cost $30 billion each year. We are talking about 16.6 per cent of Australians aged between 14 years and over smoking daily. We know as federal members when we go to a railway station to hand out our pamphlets—some would call it propaganda—during a campaign, how many young people smoke, how many young girls smoke, how many young pregnant women smoke. We can see it. This is damaging not just to themselves but to their unborn babies.

Every time a person lights up it impacts on their health, and, often, impacts on the health of their loved ones and their friends. So I am pleased we see smoking banned in so many hotels, motels and public places. I think it is a good thing. We need, of course, coordinated efforts from state and federal governments to introduce tough anti-smoking laws. I am proud of the fact that I represent not just the constituency of Blair but a political party that refuses to take donations from tobacco companies. I am proud of the fact that we have taken this stance, because I think it is the honourable thing to do—and I urge all political parties, including those opposite, to similarly take that stance.

The Cancer Council of Queensland has advocated strongly that we should take steps to fight tobacco consumption across the country. They have urged smoke-free cities and towns in the lead-up to the World No Tobacco Day each year. They have endorsed and supported, of course, federal and state government decisions on tobacco control, stamping out these types of activities. Cancer in Queensland is a serious issue. Each year nearly 21,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer and over 7,000 Queenslanders die of the disease. It is a tragedy in my state. It is a tragedy nationally as well. Thousands of Queenslanders refuse to give up, but I am pleased that we were able to announce at the end of last year that nicotine patches would be subsidised under the PBS, and the Cancer Council of Queensland endorsed that activity.

We have had clear evidence since the 1950s of the dangers of smoking, but still there are nearly three million Australians smoking. Cancer of the lung is one of the most deadly killers of both genders. The National Preventative Health Taskforce has set a national target to reduce smoking rates to less than 10 per cent; that is a reduction of about a million smokers each year. This would prevent the deaths of so many Australians.

This legislation is part of a package that we have undertaken that includes the 25 per cent tobacco excise increase which was introduced on 29 April 2010, the record investments we have undertaken in antismoking social marketing campaigns that you can see when you watch the media, and the legislation which we propose to bring in to mandate plain packaging of tobacco products by 2012. I think that is a good initiative. I know that some people have concerns about the handling of plain packaging products by retailers, in relation to the design, but I think this is an important measure. The changes will not be popular with everyone, but I think we have a responsibility to encourage smokers to quit and to discourage people, particularly young people, from taking up this filthy habit.

I was pleased to hear the announcement by the Minister for Health and Ageing on 29 April 2010. It is a good initiative that she released in terms of the package. This bill will make it an offence to advertise tobacco products on the internet or in any other electronic media such as mobile phones and computers, unless we have compliance with state and territory legislation or Commonwealth government regulations. The meaning of ‘published in Australia’ has been extended in the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Act 2010 to apply in a variety of different circumstances where the advertiser has a significant connection to Australia or is an Australian citizen or a resident of Australia. Where it is an entity or a company, a connection would be where it is incorporated or formed in Australia, is a foreign person in Australia, a foreign entity or an incorporated body with its management or control—such as its board of directors—in Australia. I think that extra territoriality is a good thing to broaden the opportunity and scope for the legislation to apply. Of course, the internet knows no borders and Australians buy goods and services over the internet across the world.

The bill looks at an obscure provision regarding the internet advertising of tobacco products and amends that legislation specifically to include advertising over the internet, so it closes the gap with respect to that and other electronic media. I think that this legislation brings internet advertising into line with television, radio and print advertising. We have legislation to restrict advertising in those areas in cultural and sporting activities, whether it is horseracing, rugby league, AFL, or even at the movies.

We do anticipate that there will be some opposition to even these types of amendments, but we think—and I am sure the minister has made this plain to the large tobacco companies—that it will not really have much impact on tobacco companies’ activities. They will continue to sell their product; I wish they did not, but they will continue to do it. The main impact will be on the retailers who advertise tobacco products without the requisite health warnings and tax free—advertising what they would describe as less expensive or cheap cigarettes. Those retailers will be consulted; we will not do this in the absence of having some discussions with them. They will include the big chains that we buy our goods from each day. You can imagine that organisations like Woolworths and Coles will be consulted and other tobacco and cigar retailers will also be in the loop in discussions in relation to those issues.

I urge all the schools and community groups in my electorate to think clearly about the need to address this issue. I really welcome the initiative and the establishment of the Medicare Locals. On Friday I met Kim Morrish, the CEO of the Ipswich and West Moreton Division of General Practice. That division works closely with the Brisbane South Division of General Practice. Vicki Poxon is the CEO of that particular division. One of the aspects I would urge the Medicare Locals in the West Moreton and Oxley region to take up is the idea of funding and targeting services in terms of not just local diabetes care, which is a big issue in the western corridor, but also some antismoking activities and targets. I think that is an opportunity for the Medicare Locals in my area who work with primary health care, particularly doctors.

The Division of General Practice in the western corridor do a great service. We have got the psychology clinic attached to the University of Queensland, where the GP superclinic is. But improving patient care by dealing with antismoking activities in our schools, in our community groups, across the medical practices in the western corridor in the Ipswich and West Moreton area is a good focus for the Medicare Local which will be established. I welcome the new boundaries in that area, and I think this is a great opportunity for the new Medicare Local to undertake some antismoking activities by advertising and really reaching out with doctors, allied health professionals and nurses in the schools and the various groups.

The Prime Minister made it plain in her press release on 22 February 2011, when we released our new guidelines for the Medicare Locals, that they would help health practitioners. They will improve the patient journey through developing integrated and coordinated services. I can think of no better activity for the new Medicare Local in the West Moreton and Oxley region than to undertake an antismoking activity and coordinated campaign.

I think this is a good opportunity to do that because it will get doctors and allied health professionals from the south-west of Brisbane, the Brisbane Valley, the Lockyer Valley and the Boonah Shire involved in this particular case. There are people, doctors and other allied professionals in that corridor with particular expertise in this area, so I would urge Kim Morrish, Vicki Poxon and all the people associated with the new Medicare Locals, which will be established in my region, to think about this type of campaign. I think this is a very effective way for primary health care to be delivered in the West Moreton region and I strongly urge them to do this. The primary healthcare service confronting the issues of smoking and the use of tobacco is so important. This legislation is good legislation which will help my community and communities across the whole of Australia.