The latest donor report of the Australian Electoral Commission revealed on Monday that the National Party accepted more than $10,000 in 2014 and 2015 in campaign donations from the tobacco industry. The National Party accepted the tobacco donations in spite of the ban imposed by its coalition partners, the Liberal Party, in 2013 on the proceeds from the industry.
According to the report, international tobacco company Philip Morris donated $10,780 to the National Party in 2014-15.
Scott Mitchell, the party’s federal director, said that two of the most recent payments from the company were not political donations. According to him, those were the fees the company had to pay to meet the party’s federal council and to present drinks after the budget night. He said the payments were not declared by the company as they fell within AEC’s $13,000 mark.
Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash, a Nationals member who is also responsible for the government’s tobacco policies, said that the party should not indulge in accepting donations from the tobacco companies. However, she said that the matter is for the party to decide.
“Under my watch, the tobacco excise has increased, we’ve updated the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program and committed an extra $10 million to advertising aimed at reducing indigenous smoking,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted her as saying. “Further, I have not met with any tobacco representatives in my entire time as a Minister.”
The 9 News reported that former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged to ban tobacco donations during his election campaigns, which was later adopted by former Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Mike Daube, a health policy professor at the Curtin University, who earlier alleged that there was a “clear conflict of interest” with Nash due to the Nationals donations policy, said its no more the case. He noted that the minister has shown bipartisan support to major tobacco control measures, including plain packaging.