While not directly related to the climate change debate, the defeat “big tobacco” suffered in today’s High Court decision has profound ramifications as the Sydney Morning Herald notes:
The federal government has secured a big win over big tobacco with the High Court ruling Labor’s world-first plain packaging laws are constitutionally valid.
The decision is expected to have significant influence globally with both the United Kingdom and New Zealand considering plain packaging
“It is also the global tobacco industry’s worst defeat,” said Professor Daube, who chaired the federal government’s expert committee that recommended plain packaging.
”The global tobacco companies have opposed plain packaging more ferociously than any other measure we have seen.”
The companies knew that plain packaging would have a major impact on smoking in Australia – and that other countries would follow.
Professor Daube said the companies’ own internal documents showed that packaging was a crucial part of their marketing.
”Since we learned about the dangers of smoking, cigarettes have killed one million Australians, in large part because of the activities of the world’s most lethal industry.”
Say, I should go check the share prices of these companies – I believe this legal defeat might prompt some “sell” recommendations from brokers.
It’s worth noting that Institute of Public Affairs has been working hard to undermine public support for these laws indulging in its usual campaign of saturating the media with op-ed pieces and the like. The “meme” they’ve run with is protecting us from “the nanny state”:
In its latest attempt to derail the plain cigarette packaging legislation, Big Tobacco has pulled out one of its favourite pro-tobacco messages: say no to a nanny state.
Having failed so miserably in their attempts to reverse the legislation I wonder if the IPAs funding will take a bit of a hit?
The war on regulatory constraints: mining and carbon taxes
Bear in mind there are several other High Court challenges are either under way or threatened, each of which attack the Government’s ability to regulate, tax and govern:
- Under Liberal National Party Premier Campbell Newman, Queensland has joined forces with Fortescue Mining to challenge the governments mineral resources tax
- Mining magnate Clive “You’ve taken my words out of context” Palmer threatened High Court challenge to the carbon tax
Considered legal opinion holds neither of these poses a real threat to the legislation. But surely it’s a coincidence that all of the above parties are climate sceptics (or their political parties are hostile to the science)?
Or that the Institute of Public Affairs has worked over time to cast doubt on science, argue against both taxes and arguing against plain packaging?
Surely it is just coincidence…
If we look at these three challenges:
- to plain packaging of tobacco products
- the regulation of CO2 emissions
- the government’s ability to tax on the “super” profits of miners
…we see the neoliberal agenda of limited government, free market fundamentalism and brushing aside “pesky” regulatory constraints.
It’s not just Big Tobacco that suffered a crushing defeat today: by extension the “neoliberal” war to remove important restraints – and desire to reduce government to the play thing of large corporations – equally suffered a setback.