Sydney Morning Herald . . Page.. 607 ..
Mr Speaker, the Greens are pleased to support this motion. We hope that the underlying and challenging causes of addiction and drug use in our society will receive the attention of all members of this Assembly over the next three years.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.10): Mr Speaker, I join with other members, and particularly former and present Health Ministers, to support the motion which is before us today. We have to acknowledge, as Mr Berry said, that for every action there is a reaction, and that applies to the gains made in recent years. I noticed in the Sydney Morning Herald of 14 February this year a forceful article by its columnist Padraic McGinness. Under the heading, “A hotbed of intolerance”, he had this to say:
There is not much hope for the people of Canberra. Dominated as that town, or rather conglomeration of suburbs without a city, is by the interfering classes who rely for their living on maladministration of the Australian nation, it is inevitable that its tiny comic opera parliament when it is re-elected next Saturday will continue to reflect the silly notions which already are rife.
He went on to talk in detail about the Smoke-free Areas (Enclosed Public Places) Act 1994, which has been discussed already today, and to describe it as an “obnoxious and intolerant piece of nanny legislation”. As previous speakers have indicated, the legislation had unanimous support in this place. As other speakers indicated - Mr Connolly included - that legislation, rather than being a piece of nanny legislation, is becoming the blueprint for other jurisdictions around the country to follow. It will be, I think, a remnant of an historical point of view that this article represents in maybe as little as five years’ time. I am quite certain that, by that time, the rest of the Australian community will have followed suit in preventing the open consumption of tobacco products in places where, clearly, they have an impact on the health of other people around those who are smoking. We need to be taking very careful steps to wind back that level of death and disease which the motion and Mr Berry refer to.
I want to correct one thing that Mr Berry did say about the Tobacco Bill which was passed in 1990. It is a pity to dilute the unanimity of our tone; but, unfortunately, Mr Berry did make this sly aside. He suggested that the Alliance Government in 1990 had left out or removed provisions to deal with smoking in restaurants. That is not the case. When I inherited the drafting of that legislation from Mr Berry, there were no provisions dealing with smoking in restaurants or enclosed public places. Indeed, no amendments to that effect were moved by Mr Berry on the floor of the house. But we have moved on since that time and we now have legislation like that in place. At that time we had disagreements about the legislation; but the legislation, as we know, is progressively becoming tighter in its application. I forget the date by which the legislation will actually operate to be fully effective in terms of the - - -
Mr De Domenico: I think it is 1997, is it not?
MR HUMPHRIES: As my colleague Mr De Domenico reminds me, 1997 is the fully operational date. I think that is right. When it does happen, it will be a very effective way of restricting the impact on other people in the community of passive smoking, particularly.