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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 2821

Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory) - Mr Deputy Speaker, who would have thought that this Bill, this debate on the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1972, would have so exposed the fundamental differences between the Liberal and Country Parties which form the Government of Australia and the Australian Labor Party? It seems to have come right out of the mouths of Government supporters that they are grudgingly forced or prepared to concede this minor step forward. As they do it, under pressure, they apologise. Out of their own mouth they apologise continually to the people for what might be called the doctrine or principle of maximising profits. That is what they continually come back to. I do not think I can be called a johnny-come-lately in this problem. On 9th December last I gave notice of intention to present 2 Bills. One was a Bill for an Act to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act to prevent a licensee broadcasting or televising any advertisement promoting the sale or consumption of cigarettes and the other was a Bill for an Act to amend the Post and Telegraph Act to prevent the sending by post of any postal article which promotes the sale or consumption of cigarettes.

Let me hasten to add that I am loath and reluctant, by nature, to ban anything. I believe in maximising opportunities but when the evidence is overwhelming, as was stated in the second reading speech of the Minister, and the relationship of cigarette smoking with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is accepted beyond doubt by major international and Australian medical organisations, including the World Health Organisation and the National Health and Medical Research Council one must face facts. This evidence has been accepted even by this Government and notwithstanding all the pressures that have been on it from a number of sources it got around not to banning these advertisements but at least to issuing a warning. The Government, at this late stage has introduced an amendment which I believe to be of advantage. The Government wishes to substitute for the words 'National Health and Medical Research Council' the words 'the Australian Government' and so indicate that the Australian Government warns that smoking is a health hazard. I take it from that that the Australian Government accepts not that someone else has an opinion that it is a health hazard but that the Australian Government itself has that opinion and is of that opinion. There is no need for me to quibble about that - it is overwhelming. The problem is, what is to be done about it?

I shall not canvass points gone into by members from this side of the House and at least one member from the other side of the House except to say that there is hypocrisy in certain of the contributions made in this chamber tonight, particularly from the Government side, and I have already adverted to one or two of those aspects which suggest hypocrisy. Some members would have us believe that the only reason the Government does not ban advertisements is that in some way it is concerned with freedom of choice. What nonsense. So are we all concerned with freedom of choice, but freedom of choice for the consumer, freedom of choice for the man who is to buy a packet of cigarettes if he wants to, or the man who buys a motor car, a loaf of bread, a bar of chocolate, a Shirt or a suit. The way the Government has put this it is a freedom of choice not for the consumer but for the advertiser, the manufacturer of this toxic product. I should like to quote from the Minister's second reading speech where he gave the reason for not banning or prohibiting. He said:

However this Government's philosophy-

I have a philosophy quite different from that of the Government - rates very highly the freedom of individuals to decide for themselves within the broad framework of our democratic society, matters concerning their own well being.

No-one could quibble with that; certainly I do not. The Minister continued:

Accordingly it is not recognised as a role of this Government to impose prohibitions on people's freedom of choice except for the most compelling national reasons

I accept that completely. But there is a note of hypocrisy lying behind it because when one looks at the facts to which it relates it is completely inapplicable. It is mumbo jumbo; intellectual garbage intended to cloak a desire to protect manufacturers of cigarettes because the Government does not want to offend them.

Any number of examples of where the Government has banned advertising can be given but I will content myself with mentioning 2 tonight out of consideration for the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). In this day and age where great pressures on the community are being exposed everywhere - one does not have to be a follower of Ehrlich to accept that the population explosion is causing untold misery in the world - the Government persists in banning the advertising of family planning services and persists in banning the advertising of contraceptives or contraceptive devices, the pill and all the rest of them. Anyone who has had the experience of sitting in this Parliament over the last 12 months or so knows that petitions are presented almost every day demanding that these bans on the advertising of these products and on family planning services be taken off the statute book. The Government proudly says: 'We do not believe in banning anything*. What rubbish! It bans things all the time if they do not suit the Government's convenience. The nearest example I can lay my hands on is section 46 (5.) of the Pharmacy Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. If the Government wants to be honest and consistent it should remove the bans on things like that which really count.

The final point I want to make is that the Government even bans the advertising of ideas. The most recent example of this is the well known and much publicised 'Little Red Schoolbook'. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) to his credit allowed it into the country. But what happened after that? Senator Cotton in the Senate, embarrassed I suppose by a lack of enthusiasm and by critics of the Government and yielding to the forces which lie behind this Government, announced:

However, the Government is concerned with some aspects of the book and is disturbed that it may be distributed and used in schools. lt is intended to be used in schools. It is aimed at the school market. It is aimed at secondary school children. The Government allows it into the country and it is on sale here. But this hypocritical Government comes out and says that it is disturbed that it may be distributed and used in schools. How hypocritical can it get? Senator Cotton continued:

The Commonwealth will therefore take appropriate action to exercise its influence and authority to prevent the book's distribution and use in schools under its control. It hopes that State governments will do likewise.

In other words it brings the enormous authority of this now discredited Government to bear wherever it can lay its hands. It bans the advertising of ideas, probably the most exciting and stimulating thing a community can have; and in the area 6f family planning it also bans the propagation of ideas. Yet it comes along here in relation to a poison and says: 'We will not ban the advertising of that poison'.

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