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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 2817

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) - There is a danger that this entire legislative operation may become an empty gesture, yet cause hardship in unexpected quarters. 1 commend the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) who has just resumed his seat for his modest revolt against the

DeputyPrime Minister (Mr Anthony) and his Cabinet colleagues Who have agreed to and supported this legislation. I would hope that when the honourable member understands the full purport of the amendment that we have moved he will vote for it. What we have said is that this is an inequitable piece of legislation. We say, in essence, one in all in; one out all out. This has been said by members of the Opposition. If honourable members opposite read very carefully the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition they will understand it better. If they are sincere they will put their vote where their words are. After all, this is the year of a dying government. If the Deputy Prime Minister wishes to exercise some influence I think it would be a very good idea if he did so on this occasion.

To suggest that the legislation is not a ban on cigarette advertising is just simply not recognising reality. Is it seriously suggested by some supporters of the Government who have spoken that a firm will pay for an advertisement which says: 'Smoke my brand of cigarettes and you will drop dead sooner? This is rubbish. When this Bill in fact is enacted it will mean the absence from television and radio of cigarette advertising. Let us be quite clear. The proposition to which we are committed is that there should be a complete ban on cigarette advertising. But what is proposed in the legislation before us is simply a partial ban. It means cutting television revenue, for example, by 12 per cent. There is no other restriction outside radio and television; so it is no great effort for an advertising agency to switch the advertising vote from one sector of the media to another. One week we get cigarettes between television and radio programmes and the next week after the legislation is passed we will have an increased diet of cigarette advertising between news pages and in the pages of glossy magazines. Another avenue of advertising that has been extended considerably in the United States recently has been on the advertising hoardings. They are bigger and brighter than ever before and they appear everywhere, except in church.

So, there is an inadequacy and also an inequity here. One half of the media is penalised and proscribed and the other half is let off scot-free. It is not an equitable situation and it could lead to a crisis in Australian radio and television, particularly in country areas. It could mean retrenched personnel and restrictions which the Government, in its usual haphazard fashion, has made no provision to overcome. I suggest that we are putting forward a positive proposal. Firstly, we are consistent - one out, all out. Secondly, there should be a positive Commonwealth programme on national health - an advisory programme which will utilise the forcibly abandoned time - on radio and television. Here we can do something positive to develop health programmes which are badly needed. We can give a lead in areas that have long been ignored.

The time could be used to bring out the truth about so many of the products which are foisted upon our people at this time. There is no doubt in my mind that Australian housewives are being sold a pup daily by exaggerated claims. A visitor from another world tuning in to a regular commercial programme could be excused for thinking that we are a nation of neurotics in need of constant treatment for an incredible range of ailments and in need of constant washing by a bewildering number of patent products. Let us use the airways to teach and to expose the fallacies and dangers of anti-social habits. I think that the whole Parliament should get behind the positive programme we have put for-, ward - to invest in valuable time - in the interests of the health of the people.

References have been made to the tobacco growers. I agree entirely that the nation should stand behind the growers and initiate a cutover programme when it becomes necessary. I do not want to see any crocodile tears from Government supporters about the fate of tobacco growers. The Government stood idly by while the entire tobacco industry in many areas, such as Barham in the Riverina, was wiped out progressively and selectively by foreign tobacco firms dedicated to importing their leaf from parent firms. I say 'selectively' because one centre after another was marked for extirpation. It was only the intervention led by my distinguished predecessor in the parliament of New South Wales, George

Enticknap, who was Minister for Agriculture and Conservation in that State, that led to some stabilisation and introduced a better limit on foreign leaf imports.

My own view is that the Government, if it is genuine in seeking a limitation of the habit, should, firstly, ban all forms of advertising and promotion to keep to the dictum that is fair and equitable, namely, one out all out. That principle is contained in the amendment. Secondly, the Government should initiate positive public health programmes on television and radio to take up the slack in time and finance. Thirdly, there should be immediate planning to cut over valuable and skilled growers from this industry to other forms of primary industry when and if this becomes necessary. We should not wait until they are in trouble; we should plan now for future action. There is no doubt where we stand on this matter, but I feel that it is an exercise in humbug to say that this is something less than a total ban and to say that there should be fair play - these statements came from honourable members on the Government benches - when in fact all Government supporters are pledged to vote for something which, as we see it, is inequitable and may well be a farce and not in the interests of either country, media or of the health of the nation.

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