Abbott declares end to tobacco companies' donations
AFTER growing public pressure on the Coalition's acceptance of political donations from tobacco companies, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott declared an end to the donations on Thursday.
The former Health Minister's comment came after Labor pledged to ban such donations for all parties, should the government be re-elected.
Mr Abbott defended his record on smoking, saying when he was Health Minister he "wrapped graphic health warnings all over cigarette packets".
He said he did what was in the interests of the nation, and "I don't do what may or may not be in the interests" of political donors.
"I've instructed the party to accept no further donations from tobacco companies," he said.
In response, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called on Mr Abbott to refund the donations.
Mr Abbott bit back, saying he would gladly refund the donations, if Mr Rudd would return political donations from the embattled Health Services Union to its members.
Greens health spokesman Senator Richard Di Natale also weighed in, calling on Mr Abbott to divest Commonwealth investment funds of tobacco investments.
Sen Di Natale has campaigned on the withdrawal of government investments in the industry through the Future Fund and public servants superannuation funds.
The Coalition accepted more than $4000 in donations from British American Tobacco last financial year, while Labor and The Greens do not accept such donations.