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Tuesday, 25 March 1980
Page: 946

Senator JESSOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and draw attention to the confusion which exists in South Australia with regard to a response the Minister made on behalf of the Government to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare last week. I ask the Minister whether her attention has been drawn to an editorial comment in today's Australian which states:

The Minister for Social Security, Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, last week announced several Government proposals, including raising the excise on tobacco and alcohol as a deterrent to over-consumption . . .

Did the Minister make that statement?

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle (VICTORIA) - It will be recalled that last week the Government responded to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare on the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. In the response to many of the recommendations some very constructive statements were made. The Government responded in detail to the recommendations. It said that some of them would have to be referred to State governments. The statement accompanying the Government's response reads: a major aspect of the drug problem is that any regulatory restraints which Commonwealth or State governments impose on the production or use of alcohol, tobacco and other legally used drugs will have significant effects on primary industry, on manufacturers, on distributors, on retailers and on consumers. These important aspects have to be weighed against the undoubted disadvantage and harm caused to the community by the irresponsible use of drugs.

It may be recalled by the Senate that in response to recommendations 4 to 7, relating to Government imposts on alcoholic beverages, the Government said:

Tax rates on alcohol are matters to be determined in a budgetary context: the Government will take health considerations into account in setting those rates.

Some of the things that have been attributed to the Government in the article referred to by Senator Jessop and in other Press reports following the Government's response to the report of the Standing Committee perhaps have not put into context the balance of the Government's detailed response to specific recommendations. I say that because the Government's response to those recommendations is worthy of study. The Government made a positive response but took into account the other aspects which I have mentioned.

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