Coalition Set to Stop Closing The Gap
Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon said comments by coalition Senator Nigel Scullion that a key role driving the Australian Government's push to reduce smoking rates should be scrapped prove again the Coalition will put the interests of big tobacco before the wellbeing of Australians.
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16 January 2012
Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon said comments by coalition Senator Nigel Scullion that a key role driving the Federal Government's push to reduce smoking rates should be scrapped prove again the coalition will put the interests of big tobacco before the wellbeing of Australians.
In today's The Australian, Senator Nigel Scullion called for the scrapping of the role of National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking, a position occupied by Dr Tom Calma.
Dr Calma heads the Federal Government's network of Regional Tackling Smoking and Healthy Lifestyle teams, with about 340 people to be employed across the country to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce smoking rates and spread the quit message.
The Senator also falsely claims there has been no reduction in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates, when evidence shows smoking rates have already declined from 51 to 47 percent.
While only a modest reduction it shows efforts are having an effect on the ground, and the Government remains committed to its target of halving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates by 2018.
"Nearly one in five deaths among Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders comes as a result of smoking. Shocking figure such as this are unacceptable and underscore why the Federal Government is investing more than $100 million signed off and supported by the states and Territories for the COAG Tackling Smoking measure, and why the role of Dr Calma is so critical," Mr Snowdon said.
The Federal Government has set a target to halve smoking rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by 2018 - a key part of the push to Close the Gap in life expectancy.
"Scrapping Dr Tom Calma's position would set back efforts to Close the Gap and illustrates that when it comes to addressing the appalling rates of chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities - the Coalition has no plan. They will turn their back on the bush."
“It is also a clear example of the coalition again rolling over to the interests of the tobacco industry, with the Liberal Party continuing their policy of taking donations from international tobacco giants," Mr Snowdon said.
For more information, contact the Minister’s Office on 02 6277 7820
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