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Wednesday, 26 April 1972
Page: 1330

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct my question to the Minister for Health. I refer to the Minister's announcement reported in Monday's newspapers that the Federal Government has decided to require the inclusion of a health warning in all cigarette advertising on radio and television and that it will finance a national education programme against smoking, directed particularly at young people. If the Government intends to finance a national education programme against smoking as opposed to the hazards involved with smoking, why does the Government not advocate the complete banning of cigarette advertising on radio and television? Finally, will the Government in its education programme consider producing television advertisements advocating that young people should not smoke and time slot such advertisements at children and family viewing times, at the same time thereby supporting Australian programme productions for children and family viewers?

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSONI feel that the honourable senator and I are at cross purposes, lt is true that I announced at the weekend the decision of the Government on 3 basic policy matters in relation to the hazards of smoking. The whole statement was in regard to the implications of the hazards to health of smoking and it must be read in that context. The Press statement indicated, first, the Government's intention 'to implement a national health education programme directed towards young people'. That is to be on the basis of the provision of up to $500,000 a year on a 3-year programme. The second point made in the statement was that the Commonwealth would 'seek uniform State and Commonwealth action on health labelling of cigarette packages'. The third point was 'to require all cigarette advertising on radio and television to include a health warning'. Those are the 3 categorical statements. Then there followed in my Press statement explanations under those 3 heads.

It is quite obvious that the decisions that the Government has taken are fundamental decisions of principle consequent upon a submission 1 put to the Government. It is now my responsibility, as Minister for Health, to implement, without undue delay, the principles that the Government has adopted. 1 am happy to be able to say - I have issued a further Press statement indicating this - that there is to be a meeting of Ministers for Health in Sydney next Tuesday al which we will be discussing in particular at least the second point of this programme relating to the uniform labelling of cigarettes with a health warning. I also will be giving the States an indication of the health education programme directed to the young and I will be seeking the cooperation of the States in relation to this matter. Thirdly, 1 will be having some discussions with the States on a matter which is entirely within the responsibility of the Commonwealth. I refer to health warnings in radio and television advertising.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do you intend thai the Commonwealth should engage in advertising?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - The honourable senator asks mc about the education programme, lt may well be that, bearing in mind that matters of principle only have been decided, in the education programme directed to the young we will use the facilities of all the State education systems. The education programme may be directed in some way to the normal advertising of health matters relating to the young. It may well be that advertising on radio and television is a natural course to follow. The programme has lo be worked out. This is a big challenge to me as Minister and to my Department. Having had decisions taken we have to implement them. I indicated that I am having a meeting with State Ministers for Health next Tuesday in order to show that there is no delay. I am happy to indicate also that arrangements have 'been made for a discussion this Friday with certain people representing radio and television interests and also the tobacco industry. Obviously these people have problems so far as this matter is concerned. Everybody will realise that it is one thing to decide that cigarette packages are to be labelled with a health warning but it is most desirable, in view of the fact that this rests officially with the six States other than the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory that we get some degree of uniformity in the labelling. That is one of the exercises that I have in front of me on Friday in my discussions with the industry groups, including the radio and television people, and next Tuesday when I will be talking to the State Ministers for Health.

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