In Malcolm Turnbull’s “new look” “21st Century Cabinet” he has appointed Qld LNP Senator James McGrath as his Assistant Minister. Senator James McGrath is known as a tobacco apologist. Senator McGrath’s promotion comes just days after Senator McGrath denounced the recent hike in the tobacco excise, legislated by Labor but enacted by the Coalition as “cover for fiscal recklessness”.
Senator McGrath also denounced Labor’s plain packaging laws, which the coalition supported, as “nanny state laws”. “it is an attack on free speech and the intellectual property rights of law abiding business and should be condemned” said Senator McGrath. He then quoted at length from discredited reports commissioned by the tobacco industry to argue plain packaging had failed.
The latest ABS National Accounts figures show tobacco consumption has fallen 19.6 per cent in the almost three years since Labor’s plain packaging laws came into effect.Each year smoking kills 15,000 people in Australia. The economic and social cost of smoking is estimated at $31.5 billion a year.
Senator McGrath’s Qld LNP accepted $107,000 from Philip Morris in the lead up to the 2013 election while the Federal Nationals accepted another $23,000 just last year.
Now tobacco companies have this fierce advocate for their cause installed as the Prime Minister’s right hand man. Tobacco companies hate Labor’s world leading plain packaging laws because they have been an unquestioned success.
Catherine King, Labor Shadow Minister for Health, has said ” The Prime Minister needs to immediately make clear he repudiates his assistant ministers’ endorsement of the tobacco industry, and its discredited and dishonest arguments.”