Posted on 23. Aug, 2013 in News
Victorian Liberal Leader Denis Napthine must now publicly declare whether he is still happy to receive donations from the tobacco industry, despite his Federal Liberal Leader Tony Abbott finally bowing to public pressure on donations from big tobacco, Shadow Minister for Health Gavin Jennings said today.
Yesterday, in response to Federal Labor’s announcement that it would ban tobacco company donations to any political party, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott backed down and said the Federal Liberal Party would reject any donations from tobacco companies.
Mr Jennings said the pressure was now firmly on the Victorian Coalition to finally reject donations from the tobacco industry and fall into line with their federal counterparts.
“It is time for Mr Napthine to quit this filthy habit,” Mr Jennings said.
“Mr Napthine has remained silent on the Victorian Coalition’’s reliance on tobacco funding, but the spotlight will now be firmly on Victoria – and rightly so.
“Labor announced in 2004 that it would no longer be receiving donations from big tobacco.
“Yet, since 2004, the Victorian division of the Liberal Party has received $237,340, and the Victorian branch of the National Party have received $35,070, bringing total Victorian Coalition tobacco donations to $272,410.
“The time has come for Mr Napthine to finally catch up to community expectations.”
Mr Jennings said the Liberal Party’s relationship with big tobacco was hampering the State Government’s efforts to reduce smoking, a leading cause of death and disease in Victoria
“Labor has a proud history of reforms that have contributed to a significant decline in smoking rates; reforms that include bans on smoking at workplaces, restaurants, pubs and clubs, and in cars with children,” he said.
“These reforms were the result of long and detailed consultation with industry groups, health professionals and the community, and we are proud that these reforms continue to this day.
“And nationally, Labor has led the way on tobacco reform, with the introduction of plain-packaging for cigarette packets, and significant investment in programs to help people quit.”
The results of this combined effort is that fewer Victorians are smoking, as demonstrated by a recent report by the Cancer Council Victoria, which showed smoking at its lowest ever rate of 13.3%.
“But smoking is still a major cause of illness, disease and death with more than 4000 Victorians dying of tobacco-related disease every year,” he said.
“Before Mr Napthine can effectively tackle the impact of smoking in Victoria, he needs to butt out and break his addiction to big tobacco dollars.”