“There is no doubt that one of the single biggest disincentives to smoking is the price of cigarettes …. so it is a measure that I believe all sides of politics must support.”
Sussan Ley, Hansard, 1 June 2009
Labor is deeply disappointed the Minister for Health Sussan Ley has reversed her long standing support for higher tobacco taxes at the same time as her Government presses ahead with a GST on fresh food.
On ABC’s Insiders this morning, the Minister was asked about Labor’s plan to increase tobacco excise, responding:
“It is a political statement and I don’t like it.”
Sussan Ley – INSIDERS – 29 November 2015
The tobacco policy announced last week by Labor is both evidence-based and in line with international best practice.
The decision to continue the existing annual increases in tobacco excises for a further four years uses the tax system for reform with purpose, reforms that will see more people give up smoking, and more kids never start.
By contrast, the Turnbull Government’s move to increase the GST and extend it to fresh food and health will have a terribly regressive impact, increasing the cost of everything, worsening health outcomes, and be especially damaging to people on low incomes.
If the Minister thinks increasing tobacco excise is such a bad idea, why did her own government increase tobacco excise by 12.5 per cent in both 2014 and 2015 and budget for a further increase in 2016?
Why, in 2009, when her own leader proposed a rise in tobacco excise in his Budget reply speech did the minister declare:
“the increase in the price of cigarettes will mean fewer people smoking and therefore the government of the day will get less excise and I think that would be a fantastic result
Sussan Ley – Hansard – 1 June 2009
As the Minister herself conceded this morning, raising tobacco excise is both good for health and good for the Budget.
LEY: Catherine King said it was about health. Brendan O’Connor said it was about revenue. Which is it?
CASSIDY: It could be both.
LEY: It could be.
INSIDERS – 29 NOVEMBER 2015
Each year in Australia, tobacco kills more than 15,000 people and has more than $31.5 billion in health and economic costs.
Labor’s approach to tackling tobacco consumption is both evidence-based and in line with international best practice.
It also is in stark contrast to the Government’s approach which wants to jack up the GST on things like health, education and fresh food to the detriment of Australian families and the economy.