The Albanese Labor Government has once again proven that they are not up to the job of protecting Australians, as they sought to pass their Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) Bill 2023 without addressing the thriving illicit tobacco trade.
In clear acknowledgement of their lack of action on enforcement, the Government has supported the Coalition’s amendment to establish a new Illicit Tobacco and E-Cigarette Commissioner within the Australian Border Force.
The Coalition welcomes the Government’s decision to support our amendment and our strong leadership to protect Australians from the growing black market.
The Commissioner would support developing and implementing strategies for addressing illicit tobacco and e-cigarettes and enforcing existing regulations.
We know that the black market is accounting for a significant and growing number of cigarettes smoked in Australia. But despite this concerning fact, the Government’s Tobacco Bill did not address the issue of enforcement at all.
The Government still needs to take real action on this urgent and growing issue.
Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, congratulated the Government for supporting the Coalition’s sensible policy on tackling the illicit tobacco trade but called them out for having no idea of the magnitude of this black market.
‘The Government has admitted that they have no idea how many Australians are smoking illicit cigarettes right now, so how could they possibly seek to reduce the smoking rate in Australia without understanding what it actually is?
‘Once again, the Coalition has been forced to step up and show leadership on key issues to protect Australians because this Government is just not up to the job,’ Senator Ruston said.
The Albanese Labor Government must now act quickly to set up the Commissioner and adequately address the tobacco black market.
The Coalition will continue to take the lead in ensuring the Government starts prioritising this serious issue, impacting Australian public health outcomes.