Page 217 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 1991

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Those members of the playgroup trying to negotiate with officials of the Health Department have found those officials to be unhelpful, derisive and contemptuous of your words and promises made in this Assembly, instead of being as helpful as possible.

MR HUMPHRIES: The officers that Mr Moore describes do not sound like any officers that I have had to deal with in the course of my time as Minister for Health. I would be surprised if even Mr Berry was prepared to describe in that fashion any of the officers who served him. I have to say that I am prepared to take Mr Moore's question on notice. Obviously I am concerned if anything I said in this place has not been carried through by my ministry. However, if I had to do so, I would operate on the assumption that the ministry was prepared to carry out the views of the Government and to accept instructions given by me in this place, or elsewhere, and that that is the case and will always be the case. I will certainly look into the matter that Mr Moore has raised and report back to him.

Passive Smoking

MS MAHER: My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Can the Minister advise the Assembly as to what the Government's plans are to respond to the recent court ruling on the dangers of passive smoking?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Ms Maher for this question. Ms Maher and other members will be aware that we have already taken a major step forward in the fight against the adverse health effects caused by tobacco use over the course of the last 12 months. The Tobacco (Amendment) Act which we passed late last year, and which is currently being implemented in this Territory, has given the ACT the toughest anti-smoking legislation in Australia through restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion, sales and marketing.

In addition, the Government has boosted funding to non-Government organisations providing education, prevention and quitting services. It is too early to say what impact the court ruling to which Ms Maher referred may have on issues such as smoking in public places and in the workplace. I have certainly sought copies of the judgment. The ministry will be looking with some interest at the ruling of the court in that case.

However, smoking is already banned in Commonwealth and ACT Government offices, and in many private sector workplaces as well. The Government, both directly and in conjunction with organisations such as the National Heart Foundation, will continue to encourage employers to move towards smoke-free workplaces - no doubt encouraged by the recent court judgment. The Government is also working with industry groups on addressing the issue of smoking in restaurants.

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