Nick Carter has a great pice in The Australian that is well worth a read in full (paywall protected).
Here are some extracts:
Staff at the Department of Health and Ageing (known, somewhat fashionably, as DOHA, incidentally) should be thanking smokers for helping to pay for the $67 million fit-out five-green-star-rated building, for as every public-service mandarin knows, smokers are net contributors to the economy.
No wonder Sir Humphrey Appleby advised Jim Hacker against banning cigarettes in the first series of Yes, Prime Minister: “We are saving many more lives than we otherwise could because of those smokers who voluntarily lay down their lives for their friends. Smokers are national benefactors.”
The federal government did even better: it spent a net $55.5m on healthcare for NSW patients with smoking-related illness, but recovered almost 30 times that amount in excise tax and Customs duty. NSW smokers therefore made a net contribution to federal coffers of $1.5bn, enough to pay for the ABC and still leave a lazy $300m or so to play with…
Which means the minister, if she had thought about it, would have told the health bureaucrats she would not be supporting a pointless, irritating piece of legislation promoted by do-gooders addicted to the sound of the cracking whip.
She would instead have listened to Sir Humphrey’s advice to Sir Jim, and would have told The Sunday Telegraph: “I think the crucial argument is that we are living in a free country and we must be free to make our own decisions. After all, government shouldn’t be a nursemaid. We don’t want the nanny state.”