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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2854 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

I reiterate that these negative effects are quite uncompensated by any assurances that the Bill will dissuade even one person from lighting up or from taking that first puff. Mr Speaker, this Bill reflects no credit on the Minister or the Government which appointed him from outside its ranks to absolve a political debt. A Bill cannot of itself be accused of misleading this Assembly, but there is no doubt in my mind that this one does. The Minister should be thoroughly ashamed of it. If there is to be any reduction in the incidence of tobacco use among young people, any increase in the number of young people who do not use tobacco, it is surely the responsibility of their parents, for example, not this Assembly, to institute the necessary measures on a one-to-one basis. We have just been told earlier today that we are not allowed to make decisions about women's pregnancies. What is the difference? We can tell parents how to look after their kids, presumably.

It is not the proper business of this Assembly to inflict a grievous economic and emotional wound on small business proprietors who have committed no sin, who are selling a licit product under trading strictures already more than sufficient to limit access by young people to tobacco products and whom the Bill would turn into criminals for the most petty of transgressions with no identifiable victims.

There is a list of adjectives that describe this Bill, Mr Speaker - wicked, for the injury it does to small business; stupid, for setting up a wicked enforcement regime to punish people who are doing no wrong; futile, for erecting a wicked and stupid mechanism that is totally unsuitable for achieving the outcome the Minister earnestly desires.

The Government and the Minister have got it wrong with this Bill. There is a grave need to reduce the incidence of tobacco use, particularly among young people, but this Bill offers no real hope of achieving that outcome. Mr Speaker, at the present time, if I was asked to vote on this Bill, I would have to vote against it.

MS TUCKER (6.04): I was interested to hear Mr Kaine's concerns. I think he is not aware of some amendments that have been given to members' offices. A number of his concerns have been addressed by those amendments. Hopefully, he will not be quite so alarmed when he sees what government has already done in response to concerns that have been raised by retailers in particular.

Mr Kaine also raised the general issue of how this Bill will affect the likelihood of young people smoking. When I was first presented with this legislation, I asked Mr Moore's office for the references that had informed this policy decision. I am happy to give them to Mr Kaine and Mr Rugendyke if they are interested. I was convinced by the very lengthy list of references, some of which I followed up, that support these initiatives. To put it in a nutshell, this legislation is saying that as a society on the one hand we are saying to young people that they should not smoke cigarettes because they are poisonous and could cause them to die and then on the other hand we are saying to them, "By the way, it is available in supermarkets as a legitimate ordinary product like a bag of sweets or whatever".

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