The NSW Liberal Party continues to accept donations from tobacco companies despite both Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey urging people to quit smoking.

Malcolm Turnbull last week addressed a Millennium Forum Luncheon, at which British American Tobacco purchased a table. Joe Hockey was his warm-up speaker at the event, MCd by 2GB’s Jason Morrison.

This is Malcolm Turnbull in September this year, talking to Ray Hadley about using marijuana:

Well smoking tobacco is a bad thing to do too but you know, all of these things, it’s important to be honest and realistic about these things. There’s no point being mealy mouthed but it’s also important to get across the message that marijuana is a very dangerous drug and indeed so is tobacco. And you know of course one of the key health objectives that we should have is to reduce people smoking tobacco.

And this was Joe Hockey in August, when he was shadow Health minister:

And what’s more, there is ample evidence out there in the scientific literature that if you change your diet and exercise more, quit smoking and drink less alcohol, by the way, that’s less alcohol. Not no alcohol. And that a whole range of health benefits are there for the taking. A major research project by the US Government’s National Guideline Clearinghouse found that four steps; 1. getting more physical activity, 2. eating more fruit and vegetables, 3. drinking alcohol at non-hazardous levels and 4. quitting smoking together add ten years to your life expectancy.

Turnbull and Hockey aren’t the biggest hypocrites in the Liberal Party about accepting tobacco company donations.

“I’ve spent a lot of my life fighting the tobacco industry,” said a prominent Liberal back in July.

In May, the same man had said “I’ve spent a lot of my life, for example working in tobacco control.”

That would be Turnbull’s predecessor, Dr Brendan Nelson.

The ALP hasn’t accepted donations from tobacco companies since 2004, when Mark Latham convinced the ALP National Conference to cease accepting donations from tobacco companies. The Liberal and National Parties had steadfastly refused to follow suit.

According to Australian Electoral Commission records, British American Tobacco contributed $91,500 to the Federal Liberal Party between November 2006 and May 2007 and over $50,000 to the NSW branch of the party between July 2006 and June 2007. Bede Fennell, BAT’s head of corporate affairs, is a former Liberal staffer and NSW Liberal deputy director.

BATA’s former lobbyist Crosby-Textor, who argued the case against cigarette pack warnings, also bought a table at the function.

Not unexpectedly, a number of prominent firms paid up to hear Turnbull bag the Government. PBL. PWC. ANZ. Transurban. Telstra. Deloitte. And some prominent rentseekers like the Pharmacy Guild. But what we might call the middle end of town was also represented. Andrews Meat Industries — hitherto known as a big Labor donor and a provider of “total meat solutions”. Harbord Beach Hotel. C.Inc, owners of the fecally-challenged Coogee Bay Hotel. Thomas Hotels. In fact the hospitality industry was somewhat over-represented, with ClubsNSW and industry peak body Restaurant and Catering Australia in attendance. The latter were enthusiastic supporters of Workchoices, and other advocates of industrial rigour such as Swan Services.

At least the leader of party doesn’t publicly criticise their products.

Peter Fray

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