Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3834 ..
There are other elements of this bill that I will touch on briefly. However, I focus my remarks on the most controversial element of the bill. I do not have an issue, for example, with another element of the bill that has received public attention since the introduction of this legislation—the banning of smoking in cars with children. I think that this will be quite difficult to enforce, but the message that parents or adults should not be smoking around children is a sensible one and one that we should be encouraging. I believe that the minister is correct in taking that initiative.
To conclude, let me say that I will support this legislation. New South Wales has also committed itself to this path. There is merit, as I have already mentioned, in maintaining consistency with our neighbouring jurisdiction. This should extend, however, to ensuring that practical considerations that this bill will place on businesses are also consistent.
I welcome the government’s amendments, which will provide more time for these practical considerations to be addressed, but urge the government to ensure that it does not simply wash its hands of this legislation. It would be irresponsible for the territory government to pass this legislation with its majority and then sit back and say the job is done. The job will not be done with the passing of this legislation. There are still significant concerns that need to be addressed to balance the policy direction prescribed in the bill with a practical outcome.
The government must work with businesses in this territory, particularly small businesses, to implement these changes and be conscious of the rights of consumers and family businesses that operate throughout our territory.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (8.39): It is well known that many retailers are annoyed by the initial bill that this one amends. For some, it is a very reasonable question of expense and inconvenience. I am thinking of businesses like newsagents, where it is very difficult to do any work without closing the newsagents, something they cannot afford to do. So there are those issues out there; there is a level of irritation.
I want to quote the comment of one of these people who I randomly saw a couple of days ago who said, “Well, you know, it’s legal.” Mr Mulcahy was saying—as was, I believe, Mrs Burke—that for some people that is just a contradiction in terms. I am quite sure that the government has heard that from a number of people, but it is important to keep in mind that not everybody has the crusading sense that we need to hide tobacco products and that that will make much difference. They see themselves as being pawns or agents against their will. Some of these people do not actually own a shop that is set up to sell tobacco products, but may own a shop that is set up to sell newspapers or groceries and just happen to have cigarette products because that is what people expect.
Let’s face it: cigarettes were normalised through my mother’s and father’s generation; they have been denormalised now. It is a hard one. It is slow and there is always reluctance.
That is the background. There is no doubt, however, that the aim of the legislation is a really worthy aim. I have questions about whether the process of hiding cigarette