Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 March 2005) . . Page.. 815 ..
this area works together to ensure that we minimise the impact of smoking on both staff and patrons in these establishments.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.54): I still have not heard the health arguments on which the government’s definition of “unenclosed” is based. Perhaps they are difficult to find or perhaps they are still being sought.
Mr Corbell asked, prior to moving his amendment, for my definition of a “smoke-free place”. I have not had access to the experts that he has had, as minister, although I fear that his use of experts was, as we have seen in other aspects of this government’s work, selective. I would like to give a definition of a “smoke-free place”. I am not an expert. I suppose I speak, really, in a similar way to the average Canberra resident surveyed by the Heart Foundation. My definition of “smoke-free place” is identical to that applied in Brisbane, that is, that there be no smoking at all in indoor areas or outside, close to people who choose to eat and drink distant from environmental tobacco smoke. That is my definition and I suppose it is based on common sense. Mr Corbell’s dismissal of the Heart Foundation survey reflects I think, a certain political bias. I suspect that if the survey’s results had endorsed his approach, he would have been less critical of its method and more of the understanding of the respondents to it.
The government’s amendment would remove paragraph (2) of my motion. I am rather sorry to hear that the Liberals have already announced that they are going to support the amendment. The amendment, of course, is quite innocuous. It is simply a statement of the situation. I want to look at the elements that Mr Corbell feels must be removed. Paragraph (2) reads: “calls on the ACT government to ensure that the consequent regulation: (a) is based on the precautionary principle”. I suppose we all understand what the precautionary principle means, but given that we did not all understand this morning what a catchment was, I might just go into that one. The precautionary principle is, I believe, that we should not proceed with action if there is any uncertainty at all about deleterious impacts that it might have. In this case, we can be reasonably certain that environmental tobacco smoke has bad effects on health. Nonetheless, given that the ACT government is committed to sustainability, of which the precautionary principle is one part, I would have thought that subparagraph (a) would have been quite acceptable to the minister.
Subparagraph (b): “ makes workers’ and patrons’ health the first priority”. I am sure the ACT government would say that, yes, it does make workers’ and patrons’ health the first priority. In that case, why is it necessary to remove section (b)? Then, subparagraph (c): “ensures that risk to the public is the primary consideration in determining the degree of enclosure permitted in smoking places”. I suppose that, when voters went to the polls and elected the first Labor majority government we have ever had in the ACT, they felt that they were placing their health in the hands of a party that put their needs first, that would do what it could by regulation to ensure that their health was safeguarded as a primary aim of the government. I am not sure why that one is being removed either.
Subparagraph (d): “is consistent with the analysis of the government’s own regulatory impact statements on smoking prohibition legislation”. We have seen the government being a little bit cagey here, preferring to use its earlier regulatory impact statement to support its arguments while trying to ignore its second regulatory impact studies, which indicated that smoking anywhere in any place that was in any way enclosed was