Her cancer, your pension
Photo © 2012 AFP/AAP/Greg Wood
Taxpayers may have helped tobacco companies fund a High Court battle against plain packaging laws, The Australian Greens say.
The Gillard government on Wednesday won its fight against several big tobacco companies, with the High Court ruling the commonwealth could force all cigarettes to be sold in olive-brown packs from December.
While Greens senator Richard Di Natale praised the government for pursuing the case with "great vigour," he criticised continued commonwealth investment in tobacco companies.
More than $200 million of the government's Future Fund was invested in tobacco companies, Senator Di Natalie said.
The Future Fund is an investment body established to help cover future public service superannuation payouts. It operates independently of government.
Taxpayers benefit from the scheme by not having to bear the future costs of superannuation directly out of government revenue.
"In one way we're helping fund this toxic industry to take legal action against us," Senator di Natale told reporters at Parliament House on Wednesday, adding it made no sense whatsoever.
The High Court decision would send a message to tobacco companies across the globe, the senator said.
He also dismissed as "rubbish" and "nonsense" tobacco company claims that plain packaging would prompt an increase in illegal black market tobacco.
"They're petrified that countries across the world are looking very closely at this."
Senator Di Natale has a bill before parliament which would prevent Future Fund investments in tobacco companies.
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