House debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Statements by Members

Tobacco Plain Packaging

1:30 pm

Photo of Josh WilsonJosh Wilson (Fremantle, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

We should celebrate the fact that Australia has won the case at the World Trade Organization in relation to our plain-packaging tobacco reforms. Introduced by Julia Gillard in 2012, the reforms have been attacked by big tobacco in the High Court, in an ISDS tribunal and at the WTO. Mercifully on each occasion we have defended those reforms. And it is a mercy because we know from multiple studies that plain packaging has stopped people smoking and encouraged people to quit. That's vital because tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia. It costs our health system $7 billion a year, results in 1.7 million hospital admissions and 15,000 deaths.

While the Australian government welcomes the WTO outcome, don't forget that that reform was opposed by many on the other side of the House. The Minister for Trade at the time said he didn't think the reform would make meaningful difference. The Deputy Prime Minister at the time said it was a complete waste of time. How do they reflect on that now?

As we congratulate those who received Queen's birthday honours, it's a funny old world where Nicola Roxon, the first woman to serve as Australia's Attorney-General and the person who delivered this world-leading tobacco control measure, is as yet unrecognised for that great contribution to public health in this country and around the globe. But we acknowledge that achievement and we celebrate the saving of tens of millions of dollars in health resources and, most importantly, the millions of lives that have been improved and saved by this signature Labor reform.