Tobacco cash ban will hit Coalition

TOBACCO companies will be banned from donating to political parties in NSW in the latest deal between the Greens and Labor on election funding reform.

The Greens MP John Kaye will move to include the ban in a bill already before Parliament that seeks to overhaul the system of political donations and election spending in the state.

The proposal is supported by the Premier, Kristina Keneally, meaning it is set to be in place before the election in March.


Labor has refused to accept donations from tobacco companies for several years, but the Coalition has not followed suit.

Election Funding Authority records reveal the NSW Liberals and Nationals have accepted $607,110 from tobacco companies since the 2003 state election.

Most of the donations come from British American Tobacco Australia and Philip Morris.

The Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, argues that the companies are legitimate corporate donors.

However, Dr Kaye said tobacco, while a legal product, killed 5000 people each year.

”Political parties have no excuse for taking money from an industry that profits from an addiction that all too often leads to death,” he said.

”As long as the Coalition is addicted to tobacco money, progress towards eradicating the annual death toll from smoking will be difficult.”

A spokeswoman for Ms Keneally, said: ”The ALP does not accept donations from tobacco companies, and has not done so for over six years. We would be happy to support this Greens amendment to our election funding reform bill.”

The move further isolates Mr O’Farrell on the issue of election funding. He criticised the original bill, agreed to after an earlier deal between Labor and the Greens, which allows trade unions to spend up to $1.05 million each during an election campaign.

The tobacco companies are fighting state and federal governments over smoking bans, plain packaging and point-of-sale advertising restrictions.

From July 1, retailers in NSW have been required to keep cigarettes out of sight and vending machines must be operated by staff.

In April, the federal government announced plans for cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging from 2012, adorned only with graphic health warnings and the brand in plain black typeface.

Dr Kaye said if Mr O’Farrell became premier in March, he should continue to pursue tobacco law reform.

”Over the next four years, NSW should prohibit smoking in outdoor eating areas, ban tobacco-vending machines, license retailers … and set ambitious reduction targets,” he said.

”Progress is much less likely from a government that continues to take money from an industry that has strenuously opposed almost all tobacco control measures in the past.”

The decision comes a year after the former premier Nathan Rees announced legislation to ban donations from property developers in NSW.


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