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Another political blow for big tobacco

Tony Abbott has banned the Liberal Party from accepting tobacco company donations. Abbott acted after Kevin Rudd told Fairfax…

Tony Abbott announced the Coalition’s health policy, in Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth. AAP/Alan Porritt

Tony Abbott has banned the Liberal Party from accepting tobacco company donations.

Abbott acted after Kevin Rudd told Fairfax Media that if re-elected he would amend the Electoral Act to ban donations from tobacco companies to Australian political parties and candidates.

Abbott, launching the opposition health policy, said he did not want Rudd’s “distractions. Mr Rudd is going to run a distraction a day”.

The Labor Party banned accepting donations from tobacco companies in 2004. Labor says that since then the Coalition has taken more than A$2 million from these companies. It also says the Coalition accepted A$1 million while Tony Abbott was health minister in the Howard government.

Rudd is quoted in Fairfax Media saying: “Tobacco companies themselves have admitted they only donate to political parties to try to influence policy.”

The Labor Government passed legislation for the plain packaging of cigarettes, which was unsuccessfully fought in the High Court by the industry.

Its recent economic statement contained a big hike in tobacco excise.

Abbott pledged today that under a Coalition government “overall health and education funding will be maintained.” He said talk by Rudd of the Coalition having a A$70 billion funding black hole was “simply a lie.”

He said the Coalition’s health policy was one for “significant incremental change. It’s not a policy for shaking up a system which in broad terms works well.”

He said our health system was always “a work in progress. But by the standards of other countries Australia does have an outstandingly good health system.

“It’s relatively well funded, we get good value for money … and we have truly outstanding health professionals at every level,” said Abbott, campaigning in Sydney.

Rudd, in the marginal Labor seat of Corangamite, continued his attack on Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme.

He said when he was speaking to groups of workers, their reaction “is just to scratch their heads and then become very angry.

“This paid parental leave scheme of his- which gives $75,000 to millionaires - he equated that with the aged pension as a social reform. How out of touch can you get?”

Rudd brushed off Facebook criticism of him from the woman who applied his make up for last night’s debate. Lily Fontana described Abbott as, “lovely, engaged in genuine conversation” but said Rudd had treated her badly.

Rudd suggested he had been “in the zone” before the debate and: “I think misunderstandings occur.”

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17 Comments sorted by

  1. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    So now the Libs won't accept tobacco donations any more? So when will they hand the money they've already received back?

    Lynton Crosby's already moved on to the UK Conservatives: what timing.

    1. Ronald Ostrowski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      Spot on! I reckon the money has already been blown out on those wall to wall negative LNP campaign adds. This is just another las minute Abbott backflip.

    2. Chris Reynolds

      Education Consultant

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      What is most striking is how little comment is made by the MSM. If the ALP did such a volte face just before the election the Murdoch press would be screaming hypocrite, traitor or other such expletives.

      I think the Coalition is treating the electorate as complete fools. Mr Abbott has a goon squad around him, will not be interviewed on any programme which is not already in his pocket (not even the Project on Ch 10 for example) and expects every debate to be on his terms.

      His bully boy tactics really do have fascist or at least anti-democratic overtones.

    3. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Chris Reynolds

      CHRIS R: The Murdoch press would call for a Royal Commission-almost. The Murdocricia disprove the old saw that money can't buy everything. The hell it can't.

      As the Coalition is treating the electorate as fools I'm forced to ask myself if indeed we are fools. If we are it is because we're easily manipulated. By the time the average Oz is replete with sport we don't have the energy to be outraged by Rupert Murdoch's hirelings churning out his own confabulated bile.

      The Coalition's vile lizard of a Rabbott believes so passionately in his own BS that he doesn't even have the guts to take on Leigh Sales; all of which leaves Rupert Murdoch as the unequivocal Deus ex Machina of the Liberal Party-tell me what's liberal about it?

    4. Deirdre Alderton

      Retired Health Worker

      In reply to Chris Reynolds

      I think that the Libs have waited until they have already spent the donations before banning them in the future!

    1. Rex Gibbs


      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      No, Paul Keating was evil, Abbot is just a rabbit but then he is trying to defeat the Energiser Bunny who does nothing but beat his drum pointlessly.

    2. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      I don't know that Keating was evil per se. But, it is thanks to him that we have the foreign-owned overlord of seventy-five percent of the Oz media.

      Don't be mistaken about my thoughts on Kevin Rudd. He is a nasty little man whose ambition out-guns any other nascent qualities he might have. However, the Rabbott is unspeakably and monstrously worse.

  2. Blair Donaldson
    Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Researcher & Skeptic

    Wow, will wonders never cease? Of course it's big of the Liberals to give up tobacco money just prior to an election when they have presumably spent a fair part of their ill gotten gains already to attain office.

    As usual, Abbott will leave future funding problems he's created for some mug down the track to sort out while he continues on with his immediate, short-term self-interest.

    The question is, what conniving legalism will he legislate to make up for the loss of big Tobacco's tar stained financial support?

    1. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Venise, I suspect we will see all sorts of excuses and doubtful explanations as to why he has to break his promises after he gets elected. It's the standard operating procedure of new governments, particularly the LNP.

      The current mob have been an extreme disappointment but I fear the worst is yet to come.

  3. John Gillroy


    All very good but when will both Parties refuse liquor money? And when will union members have a vote on union fund moneys donated to election campaigns?

  4. Henry Verberne

    Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

    Anything that reduces the influence of the tobacco lobby has my support!

  5. Neville Mattick
    Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Conveniently late announcement indeed.

    All in a theatre of endless ?polls? reporting an LNP win to promote a sense of loss in those with vision for the future so more will make a snap decision to go with a 'perceived' winner - all manipulated by the ABC/MSM.

    As I see it once the "suppository" hits the voters' Abbott will be replaced by M. Turnbull.

    First and foremost though; lets not have and Abbott Government.

  6. Gregory Gee

    logged in via Twitter

    Given that the Coalition is embracing outsourcing of policy development to the IPA, the issue of direct tobacco industry funding is effectively moot.