Updated: Jul 28, 2021
by Pippa Starr
28 July 2021
The next federal election will be held no later than May 2022 and one of the biggest issues that may determine the outcome may not be about the Covid vaccine rollout!
Surely the Covid vaccine rollout, is the leading issue that will be on the minds of Australians voters at the next election?
Indeed, it will be and should be, but there is another issue that is taking up time in the LNP coalition cabinet room that has many genuinely concerned about it's future.
It involves an issue that could not only determine the outcome of the next federal election but also make a difference to the other pandemic that is currently killing 21000 Australians each year via the perils of smoking.
According to a recent Roy Morgan poll 51% of Australians disapprove of our prime ministers’ handling of Covid19 and all related issues while the ALP hold a tight margin over the LNP of 1% on a two-party preferred basis which sees the current Government in an extremely precarious position.
Josh Frydenberg said in his budget speech,
“This is low by international standards, as a share of the economy, net debt is around half of that in the UK and US and less than a third of that in Japan.”
Let’s look at one handy cost saving Australia could well do with and that is burdening the Australian economy to the tune of around $140 billion per year via lost productivity of smokers. The government is on track to reel back around $17 billion in tax excise this year making our governments’ reliance on this funding the 4th largest source of taxation revenue.
Key words here “reliance on this funding”. Sure Governments rely on major funding sources, but for it to be on the back of a pandemic that kills well more than 21x as many as Covid 19 killed in 2020, it will forever be a money bucket relied upon on the back of deaths of ordinary Australians by the Australian Government.
Strong words sure, but let’s consider these words recently offered by the ATO Assistant commissioner Ian Read “criminal syndicates used the proceeds of illegal tobacco sales to fund their criminal behaviour
Blind Freddy can see it’s a false economy to bring in $17 billion via tobacco taxes to help fund projects such as car parks and sporting clubs in marginal seats, then only to watch $140 Billion of productivity go down a drainpipe of death, while also maintaining stimulus for a criminal black market.
The government seems lost as it keeps sugar coating it’s figures around smoking prevalence by highlighting that only 11% of Australians are smokers when in fact 14% is the real figure if one digs a little deeper into their own AIHW figures.
You don’t have to look far to learn that there is a huge growing black market tobacco phenomenon happening in Australia right now which would make it near impossible for the government to offer figures of smoking prevalence with any real accuracy.
As at least 1 in 5 cigarettes are purchased via the black market, the number of illegal tobacco seizures just about tripled from 2019-2021 in response to the failures of the exorbitant taxes the Australian Government now rely on. It’s fair to say it’s a desperate, clumsy and deadly situation that voters are becoming more and more aware of.
Speaking of the UK, USA & Japan, their economies might not be faring as well due to Covid19 but their figures in of bringing down smoking rates are far more impressive than Australia's figures over recent years.
Greg Hunt’s grand plan to add to this mess, is by getting vapers back onto the cigarettes from October 21. Wait what?
It was made clear to the Australian Government last year that if vapers getting nicotine via a prescription was to be enforced, almost half will return to smoking.
From October vapers will have to get their nicotine via prescription or cop a $220000 fine.
What this decision doesn’t appear to be banking on is that the over 520000 plus vapers and parochial supporters of vaping nicotine are also deciding which way to vote. Vapers are aware of this and will vote for the party who will lead to legislate this far safer and more effective alternative to smoking sensibly and in a way that doesn’t keep deadly combustible tobacco products with greater accessibility.
After interviewing many adult vapers around this topic, the consensus is that as long as they can safely obtain their safe dosage of nicotine via Australian based vape businesses without the need for a prescription, they would vote for that.
Keep in mind that no one has ever died from vaping with nicotine and vapers want a sensible regulated industry with no black market, it sound like a fair ask.
Vapers are predominantly ex-smokers who reduce the demand for smoking products.
While every premature death in Australia can’t be avoided, the one thing that can be, just may be the one issue that could very well determine who will lead Australia after the next election.
Who will you vote for?
A government who focuses on our health and well being or one that keeps Australian’s smoking?