Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s reported attendance along with representatives of tobacco companies at a Liberal Party fund raiser held last Thursday has raised ethical questions about the relationship between the Coalition parties and these businesses, Greens NSW Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon said today.
“Mr Abbott and the Liberals should respect the spirit of the NSW law and not hold fundraisers that involve the tobacco industry in this state,” Ms Rhiannon said.
“I understand that the event was held in Sydney with representatives from Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco attending.
“It is illegal for NSW political parties to accept donations including contributions at fundraisers from tobacco companies. This law was passed by the state parliament at the end of 2010 after years of campaigning by the Greens and community groups.
“As a leading political figure Mr Abbott should avoid a conflict of interest and put public health before the sectional interests of such a dangerous industry and the monetary interests of his own party.
“Mr Abbott’s attendance at this fund raiser along with Phillip Ruddock further fuels speculation that there is a close working relationship between the Liberals and big tobacco interests.
“Senator Bob Brown announced last week that the Greens will move for a nationwide ban on political donations by tobacco companies.
“The Greens have never taken donations from tobacco companies, and the ALP stopped taking such donations in 2004.
“The Coalition parties have received $1.8 million from the tobacco industry since 1999. British American Tobacco alone has donated $1.1 million,” Ms Rhiannon said.
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