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Tuesday, 25 May 1993
Page: 1165

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (11.28 a.m.) —I happen to share most of Senator Bell's starting points in this respect in terms of dangers associated with smoking and so on. I do not think there is too much argument with him now among policy makers. But the point is that tobacco consumption is, I am advised, going down about seven per cent per annum at the moment as a result of the kind of campaigning that he and I both agree with. But so long as it does remain a legitimate item for consumption—and we are not in the business of banning absolutely—then a question arises as to how to supply that legitimate demand. Obviously it is in our interests as a national government to ensure that that supply is, so far as humanly possible, from viable Australian producers. So long as tobacco continues to be consumed in this country, we would much rather it was being supplied by Australian producers than outsiders. So it is in that context that these questions are being addressed by this department. The other issues Senator Bell raised really are, as I think he would acknowledge, properly and better addressed to the health Minister.