To: Honourable Jim Elder MLA
Subject: Make the gene tech giants pay too!
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 10:34 AM
Dear Mr Elder
Will the Queensland Government seek similar action against the release of GMO's into the environment for which the Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, has claimed that he will take personal responsibility under the regime of the Interim Office of Gene Technology Regulator?
Biohazard Action Alliance
Qld Govt plans to make tobacco giants pay
By Political editor PETER MORLEY
28nov99 The Sunday Mail
THE Queensland Government is investigating United States-style court action to
force tobacco companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs.
Nearly 30,000 patients are admitted to Queensland's public hospitals with
smoking-related complaints each year, at a cost of nearly $110 million.
Cabinet tomorrow will discuss the possibility of legal action against cigarette
manufacturers to recoup those costs.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie yesterday vowed that the proceeds of any
settlement would be poured back into the health system.
"I give this guarantee if we do decide to take legal action and if we do win, the
money we recover from the companies will all be spent on health," he said.
Precedents have been set in the United States where tobacco companies have
agreed to pay state governments $246billion compensation over 25 years. These
successes have prompted the United States Government to begin similar action.
Crown Law has told Mr Beattie that there is potential for Queensland to follow the
"But just because something succeeds in the United States does not mean it
automatically succeeds here," Mr Beattie said.
"Monday's cabinet debate is only the first step we will need to take a lot more
legal advice before court action is considered."
Various options will be outlined to ministers in a submission jointly prepared by Mr
Beattie and Attorney- General Matt Foley.
This estimates that smoking imposes a $2.2billion financial burden on Queensland
through lost production and the economic impact of premature death.
Mr Beattie said taxpayers picked up a "horrendous" burden caused by smoking.
"My view is that taxpayers should not have to shoulder this cost. It should be borne
by the tobacco companies.
"In many ways their product is more destructive to the community than hard
He would "keep an eye" on Victoria, where the Bracks Government yesterday
announced smoking would be banned in restaurants.
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