The tobacco industry are the big winners from the Nationals’ leadership change with the party electing an outspoken opponent of plain packaging as leader, and a deputy who held specific responsibility for tobacco policy, while her party accepted tobacco donations.
The Nationals have received at least $590,000 in tobacco donation since 1998/99 and continue to do so to this day.
The latest records from the Australian Electoral Commission show the Nationals accepted $10,780 in the 2014/15 financial year.
Barnaby Joyce was a bitter opponent of Labor’s plain packaging laws, putting the intellectual property rights of tobacco companies ahead of saving lives.
“Can we go into the offices of British American Tobacco and Philip Morris and take the computers off their desks and their furniture out of their living room?”
Barnaby Joyce, The Australian, 24/05/2011
Tobacco consumption has fallen 18.3 per cent in the three years since Labor’s plain packaging laws came into effect and Australia’s lead is now creating an unstoppable momentum with Britain and Ireland voting to introduce plain packaging and the entire European Union expected to follow.
But of most embarrassment is the fact that the Nationals have now elected as deputy, a Minister for Rural Health who has specific responsibility for tobacco policy in the Turnbull Government, while her party continues to accept tobacco donation.
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 Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash must abandon Team Tobacco, and immediately announce they will cease accepting donations from big tobacco today.