The Coalition continues to accept donations from big tobacco, with the latest records from the Australian Electoral Commission showing the Nationals accepted $10,780 in the 2014/15 financial year.
This continues despite former Prime Minister Tony Abbott promising the Liberals would no longer accept big tobacco donations during the 2013 election campaign. And since 1999, the Coalition accepted around $3 million in donations from big tobacco.
By contrast, Labor has not accepted donations from tobacco companies in more than a decade. This is a position that continues to be reflected in Labor’s National Platform.
Of most embarrassment though is the fact that the Nationals’ Minister for Rural Health has specific responsibility for tobacco policy. The Coalition too has been critical of Labor’s policy of continuing annual tobacco excise increases of 12.5 per cent, despite it being one of the few remaining policy levers the Commonwealth has to reduce rates of tobacco consumption.
Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in Australia, accounting for more than 15,000 deaths each year. That is why Labor introduced world-leading plain packaging legislation that, complemented by other reduction and public education policies, has seen adolescent smoking rates drop to a record low.
If the Nationals are serious about addressing Australia’s leading cause of preventable death they should announce they will cease accepting donations from big tobacco today.