Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

PM’s overseas trip linked to tobacco group

PM’s overseas trip linked to tobacco group

Date June 29, 2013

Philip Dorling


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd accepted international flights and hotel
accommodation from a German foundation that controls a key part of the
international tobacco industry, despite his earlier declarations that
“cigarettes kill people”.

Mr Rudd’s declarations of interests lodged with the federal parliament
reveal that in October last year he was given return international
tickets and two days accommodation in Berlin from the Korber
Foundation, a German non-profit foundation that is the sole owner of
the world’s leading supplier of machines for the production of filter

The Prime Minister’s acceptance of this benefit would appear to be at
odds with the Federal Labor Party’s long standing policy of not
accepting political donations or any other benefits from the tobacco

In October last year, Mr Rudd attended the 2nd Berlin Foreign Policy
Forum which was hosted by the Korber Foundation, otherwise known as

Mr Rudd, then a backbench MP, used the Berlin conference to highlight
his international standing as a former prime minister and called for
Europe to engage more closely with Asia, especially China, saying that
“if Asia goes wrong and Asia becomes a rolling security nightmare the
impact on the German economy will be massive.”

The Korber Foundation, which promotes international political,
scientific and cultural exchanges, has for the past twenty years been
the sole owner of Korber AG, a German-based engineering and
manufacturing conglomerate that includes Hauni Maschinenbau, the
world’s leading supplier of cigarette making machines.  The company’s
global turnover exceeded €780 million ($1.1 billion) in 2011 — more
than 40% of Korber AG’s overall activity.

Hauni Maschinenbau describes itself as “the world’s leading supplier
of technologies as well as technical and consultancy services for the
international tobacco industry.” The company manufactures high-tech
machines for all stages of cigarette production “from tobacco
processing to the production of filter rods, cigarettes and special
products through to final quality measurements”.

The Korber Foundation’s website and promotional information does not
disguise its connection with and reliance on revenues from the Korber
AG group including its prominent position in the international tobacco

The Foundation’s reliance on profits from its tobacco industry
business has been the subject of considerable controversy in Germany
and Europe more broadly.  German and other European politicians
involved in Korber Foundation events have been criticised for being in
breach of World Health Organisation guidelines warning against
political figures and government officials being involved with the
tobacco industry.

The Australian Government has moved to tighten restrictions on tobacco
industry advertising including the enactment of the world’s first
plain packaging tobacco legislation and has stepped up anti-smoking
health advertising.

In announcing a sharp rise in taxation on tobacco products in April
2010, Prime Minister Rudd said “Cigarettes are not cool. Cigarettes
kill people. Therefore the Government makes no apology whatsoever for
what it’s doing.”

In February this year the Future Fund announced it would exclude
primary tobacco producers from its investment portfolio.  The Labor
Government has also been sharply critical of the Liberal and National
Party’s continuing acceptance of political donations from tobacco

A spokesperson for the Australian Medical Association yesterday
affirmed that the AMA considers that a prohibition on contributions to
political parties from tobacco companies and related entities “should
extend to individual MPs.”

A spokesperson for Mr Rudd highlighted the attendance of British
Foreign Secretary William Hague and the German Foreign Minister Guido
Westerwelle at the Berlin Conference.

She said Mr Rudd’s trip was declared on the register of MP’s interests
at the time.

On being told of Mr Rudd’s acceptance of flights and accommodation
from the Korber Foundation, a spokesperson for Health Minister Tanya
Plibersek did not reaffirm Labor policy against political donations
and benefits from the tobacco industry and hastily suggested that
other ministers such as Finance Minister Penny Wong might be asked to
comment instead.

Mr Rudd’s acceptance of international flights and accommodation from
the Korber Foundation is but one of numerous gifts and benefits listed
in his 71 pages of parliamentary  interests declarations since the
2010 federal election.

He has accepted overseas travel and accommodation from companies and
institutions that include Hony Capital, China’s leading private equity
investment firm; the China Council for the Promotion of International
Trade; the Asia Inc Forum; the Chinese People’s Institute for Foreign
Affairs; the Chinese Ministry of Education and Beijing Municipal
Government’s Beijing Forum; the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (associated
with the German Social Democratic Party); the Deutsche Bank’s Alfred
Herrhausen Society, the EBG Group, the London School of Economics; the
United Kingdom based International Institute for Strategic Studies
(which also provided a $10,000 honorarium; the Business Council of
British Columbia and the Governments of Canada, the United Arab
Emirates and Dubai.

Mr Rudd’s declarations also show he and his wife Thérèse Rein have
received a dozen international and more than twenty domestic flight
upgrades, and some forty hotel room upgrades in the past three years.
Mr Rudd has also received numerous complimentary tickets to rugby
league and Australian rules matches and other events including two
Cirque de Soleil tickets provided by consulting firm KPMG in August
last year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>