John Howard has described efforts by the nation's health ministers to restrict junk-food advertising on TV as a waste of time, saying it is an issue for media authorities, not health departments. In a letter presented to a health ministers meeting in Brisbane, the Prime Minister wrote: "Given ... the fact that regulation of media advertising is an Australian government responsibility, I see little value in continued consideration of this issue in the Australian Health Ministers' Council forum."
The letter, delivered by federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, has infuriated his state counterparts, who have been campaigning for junk-food advertising restrictions for the past 12 months. "We are not going to back down to the Prime Minister's bullying," Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson said. "I do not believe it is open for John Howard to unilaterally dictate the ministerial health conference. "The fact that we now have a PM who is prepared to shut down debate on health is frankly unacceptable."
State and territory ministers agreed yesterday to establish a working party to review marketing and advertising practices with the industry, while looking at existing regulatory codes.
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