Page 913 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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We are concerned the Government is proceeding with legislation on this matter, the details of which have not been subject to consultation with retailers and the subsequent economic impacts of these proposals on our businesses.

As retailers, we pay a license fee for the right to sell tobacco products we can state we have not been invited to participate in any consultation regarding the proposals.

I would add to that the 2006 regulatory impact study as well. The letter continues:

As responsible retailers we applaud any meaningful efforts to address concerns over young people and smoking and constructive measures to educate and regulate the stakeholders accordingly.

No other jurisdiction has adopted such a punitive approach to this issue in recognition of the impacts of such moves.

We welcome the opportunity to meet at the earliest opportunity to discuss the proposed provisions in the Bill and the impacts they would have on retail businesses. We would also request the Bill be referred to an appropriate committee of the Assembly to allow meaningful consideration of the impact on retailers.

As I said, this letter is signed by 132 small to medium sized family businesses and I think it needs to be taken into consideration. This has been a very poor and tardy process. We set aside the health concerns. As you have heard there, the retailers are responsible retailers and they applaud any meaningful efforts to address concerns. If we are going to make it impossible for them to conduct their businesses then we need to make smoking illegal, basically, and that is it. They have all said that.

I am pleased to hear that the minister will be seeing them, I think on Thursday, 10 April. That is a positive move and hopefully there will be a way forward. There has been similar legislation in places like Canada and Iceland and forthcoming legislation in Tasmania. It is a bit mean spirited to slap the retailers on the wrist. It has been difficult for people to get their heads around some of the strict liability offences and so forth. We are not really getting to the cause of the problem, and that is the uptake of smoking by young people and predominantly by young females.

I am still working through many of the issues outlined in the tobacco bill with the industry and with Mr Smyth, the shadow minister for small business. There is still a bit to work through. I hope that the government is not thinking of trying to rush this through just to be seen to be doing something or to be politically correct. We need to have a right approach to stopping young people from taking on smoking. We need to have a right approach to addressing the issue. That is not by penalising businesses that are running legal operations in the ACT. I seek leave to table the 132 letters from tobacco retailers in the ACT.

Leave granted.

MRS BURKE: I table the following papers:

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