Kevin Rudd is getting Serious About Smoking. Again.
Destroying commercial intellectual property rights, restricting the actions of citizens in public and in private, distributing horrific imagery, and scouring hip pockets for loose change is not serious, apparently.
Inflating the retail price of a three dollar good to over twenty dollars? That’s a serious fix.
Today’s announced 12.5% tobacco excise hike each year for the next four years is a shameful reflection on an incompetent government who simply can’t handle a budget.
The speed with which raising tobacco excise again springs to the mind of an MP, or a PM, is equaled only by Rudd’s rush to press fast-forward on the carbon tax/emissions trading scheme he fought so valiantly against/for.
Unfortunately, when he got serious about raising $5 billion by increasing tobacco excise by 25% in 2010 so it could be allocated to the public health system .. well, the excise hike’s implementation report tells us that the government has no idea how much extra revenue was raised.
That $5 billion was supposed to go to hospitals. The same report can list spending commitments but no allocation of excise revenue – because specific revenues aren’t allocated to policies or departments, but to consolidated revenue. It also shows a brief bump in attempts to quit smoking returned to long term trends within months.
These were promises Rudd couldn’t make, but he did – and he’s making them again.
This time, though, we can rest assured that things will be different. This Kevin Rudd is a different Kevin Rudd.
This time it will surely raise $5.3 billion and, as Treasurer Chris Bowen tells us,
It provides funds for cancer-related health services; it deters young people from taking up smoking; and of course, it alleviates some of the revenue impacts on the Budget
Of course there will be cancer funding this time, Chris, and of course kids (who have an income but lack adult expenses) can’t afford something that costs $20, like a movie ticket – and I am absolutely certain your black hole will benefit, if nothing else – but if we put our minds to it for a moment, surely you can think of some groups in society who might be doing it a little tougher than MPs with six figure salaries and a trillion dollar economy to play with?
Regressive taxes like the per-cigarette/per-gram tobacco excise unfairly penalise people from migrant, ethnic, mentally ill, and low socioeconomic backgrounds, who are more likely to smoke.
Do-gooder bourgeoisie parochialism is alive and well in the ALP, but, of course, when the Right does this it’s called class warfare. When the Left does this, it’s saving people from themselves and happy smiles all ’round.
A serious response would make serious references to motivation for tobacco use, but the Rudd Labor government is in form in trying to cover up their overspending with new taxes and tax hikes.
Is anyone fooled this time around? Rudd isn’t serious about stopping smoking, only about obscuring his $20 billion budget black hole and trying to turn his care-taker prime ministership into Kevin Rudd PM, Mach II.
When a Labor government is milking the most disadvantaged groups in society to make themselves look good and slap a band-aid across their own problems, you know there is no Real Kevin, Real Julia, or Real Labor Party – just Real politicians with a Really big fiscal mismanagement problem.
Seems to me that the government is the group most in need of a punitive lifestyle tax. Or have they just lost their way again?