THE Federal health department is considering taking action against big tobacco for lodging "vexatious" Freedom of Information (FOI) claims as part of the industry's fight against Labor's plain-packaging push.The 'vexatious' part being their wish to find out what government has planned which affects their legal business selling products to willing customers. The bastards!
Health department secretary Jane Halton says the department is being "swamped" with FOI requests as part of a deliberate campaign by cigarette manufacturers.
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) argues it's been forced to rely on freedom of information applications because Health Minister Nicola Roxon refuses to consult industry.Eminently believable, I'd say. Perhaps, Nicola, you should have expected such requests when you first set out down the road of excluding an industry from discussions about how they conduct business. Or, with all the bullying you've been doing, had you forgotten that tobacco companies aren't actually cowering lily-livers, after all?
The amount the department can charge for processing requests "goes nowhere near meeting our costs", Ms Halton said.Sounds like the federal government has been rather inept then, doesn't it? Are we meant to be surprised by this?
It can only charge $15 per hour for search and retrieval and $20 an hour for decision-making time. The staff doing the work can earn up to $50 an hour.
"Documents (already obtained) from the government show they have concerns about the need to pay compensation to the tobacco industry for removing our intellectual property, the growth in illegal tobacco once all packs look the same and an increase in smoking rates due to cheaper cigarettes," BATA spokesman Scott McIntyre told AAP in a statement.Well, that would go some way to explaining the government's squealing, wouldn't it? How embarrassing if the released documents reveal that, privately, Roxon and her chums are fully expecting the serious problems that, in public bravado, they declare are not going to happen, eh?
We know a Scottish university which is similarly currently in a bit of a cleft stick over FOI requests potentially exposing them as duplicitous, don't we boys and girls?
H/T Cherie, the Aussie informer