Nicola Roxon

The Australian Editorial on Plain Packaging

The Australian editorial is harsh over plain packaging and outlines similar tactics taken by our own politicians in attacking tobacco, alcohol and sugar.

LIKE most Australians on the cusp of 50, we’d like to see young smokers, in particular, do their health and their wallets a favour and kick the habit. Better still, savvy teenagers would be smart not to take it up. Cigarettes are a $20 a packet ticket to serious illness. And those who puff away their working days off site undermine their careers.

But influencing public behaviour, especially that of young people, is complex. Ask any parent or teacher how far they get with hectoring. That point clearly escaped former health minister Nicola Roxon, who introduced plain (a euphemism for hideous) cigarette packaging in late 2012.

However disappointing, it is no surprise 59 million additional cigarettes were sold in Australia last year, the first full year of ugly packaging, according to industry figures. While sales of expensive brands fell, presumably because they have lost their cachet, sales of cheap brands soared. Perhaps nannies are hazy about markets.   Read more »

Plain Packaging works…at increasing sales

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Australia is held up as the model for plain packaging for tobacco products.

Despite advice at the time that such measure wouldn’t work they plowed on ahead and are now facing legal action as a result.

Plain packaging has been touted as a tool to reduce consumption of tobacco products, it is also a tool that has been picked up by other lobby groups to attack alcohol and sugar products.

How are they going in reducing consumption in Australia via plain packaging?

Not so well it turns out…in fact since plain packaging has come in sales of tobacco products have increased…for the first time in years.

The Australian reports:

LABOR’S nanny state push to kill off the country’s addiction to cigarettes with plain packaging has backfired, with new sales figures showing tobacco consumption growing during the first full year of the new laws.

Eighteen months after the previous government’s laws came into force, new data, obtained by The Australian, shows that tobacco sales volumes increased by 59 million “sticks”, or individual cigarettes or their roll-your-own equivalents last year.

The 0.3 per cent increase, though modest, goes against a 15.6 per slide in tobacco sales over the previous four years — and undermines claims by then health minister Nicola Roxon that Australia would introduce the “world’s toughest anti-smoking laws”.   Read more »

Rudd – a “bastard”, rude and dysfunctional

Now Kevin Rudd is powerless his former mates are going dog on him and slamming him openly in the media, describing him as dysfunction, rude and a “bastard”.

The former attorney-general Nicola Roxon has launched a scathing critique of the Rudd years, slamming former prime minister Kevin Rudd as a “bastard” who was a rude and dysfunctional leader and calling on him to quit politics.

“Removing Kevin was an act of political bastardry for sure. But this act of political bastardry was made possible only because Kevin had been such a bastard himself to so many people already,” she said on Wednesday evening.

But in giving the John Button lecture, Ms Roxon also acknowledged that while Labor did the right thing by getting rid of Mr Rudd in June 2010, the party did it in a clumsy way. “I think we had all the right reasons to act but I think we were clumsy and shortsighted in the way we did it.”   Read more »

The rats are abandoning ship

The ALP ratbags are all abandoning ship…fleeing the onslaught at the election. Simon Crean is the latest.

Simon Crean is now quitting politics at the next election.

This is the man who stood for deputy prime minister at last Wednesday’s Caucus meeting and got thrashed by Anthony Albanese.

On 3AW he says he would have served under Kevin Rudd as a Minister until the election, but Rudd had told him he’d rather give the position to someone else if Crean was leaving anyway.

Andrew Leigh, a Gillard backer and former professor, has resigned as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Kate Lundy has demoted from Minister for Sport to Minister for Multicultural Relations.

The full list of former Gillard Ministers quitting at the election:

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister

Greg Combet, former Climate Change Minister

Simon Crean, former Regional Australia Minister   Read more »

Out of the shadows

Sydney Morning Herald

There is a lot of focus right now on lobbyists, not only in New Zealand but also in Australia. Lobbyists are moving from the dark shadows out into the public gaze:

Public lobbying has been common in American politics for years, and has recently become widespread and high-profile in Australia. Is this because business leaders cannot get meetings with ministers, or after the success of the miners a simple case of follow the leader?

A Rudd confidant, Bruce Hawker, believes there is more to the trend than companies feeling shut out of government. ”There have been a number of high-profile and high-impact decisions by the government that pose big financial threats to wealthy companies,” Hawker said. ”These companies have a lot to lose and therefore they are prepared to spend.”

Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and friends spent $22 million on their advertising campaign and saved themselves an estimated $60 billion over 10 years. British American Tobacco has spent $4.5 million on its campaign against the plain packaging legislation.

British American Tobacco Australia maintains it went public only because its chief executive could not get a meeting with the then health minister, Nicola Roxon.

”Our CEO requested meetings with the then health minister via email and phone a number of times without success,” Scott McIntyre, a spokesman for BATA, said.

Roxon, now the Attorney-General, rejected the implied criticism: ”My then department met regularly with representatives from big tobacco. However, I saw no value to meet personally with companies that had already trenchantly declared their total opposition to our action.”

The Minerals Council said it had no choice but to pursue a public campaign. Their argument gained credibility after Gillard criticised her former boss for not adequately consulting with the mining companies.

”We didn’t really set out to change public opinion. We set out to send a message to government because we weren’t getting access to them,” a source close to the council campaign said. ”The policy didn’t pass the pub test, and all we did was confirm that view by being so vociferous.”

I like the idea of the pub test…kind of link the blink test. Many politicians and policies fail the pub test because politicians and policy wonks spend too much time inside the beltway.

This will be the result, however, of the Green’s insistance at controlling lobbying. Companies, unions and interest groups will simply mount public information campaigns. Pressure…and ironically lobbying…will come to bear on politicians to free up the current legislation regarding political advertising on television which is currently the sole preserve of the political parties. It is outrageous that only political parties get to have a say on television.

If the Greens want more transparency then let’s have it by all means, including the freeing up of access to the medium that allow for more transparency.

A Labour Party where women don’t have to look ugly

JULIA GILLARD has hailed the promotion of three women in her ministry reshuffle as a sign that her government is in tune with the challenges facing working women

Nicola Roxon, a mother of one, has become the nation’s first female Attorney-General. She has been replaced as Health Minster by Tanya Plibersek, a mother of three. The newest minister, Julie Collins, has three children. All the women are in their 40s.

”Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand from personal experience many of the challenges Australian women face as they seek to build a career whilst having a family,” said Ms Gillard, the nation’s first female prime minister.

No hard bitten class warriors or witches here. Labor women in Australia show that making an effort to look half decent isn’t career limiting and probably wins votes. Labour here need to get rid of the horrible old trots that are costing them votes and start selecting women who aren’t afraid to be feminine.