The steady flow of politicians and government staffers switching to roles in which they are lobbying for the powerful food, alcohol and gambling industries is a serious threat to public health, according to the authors of an important new study published in the latest issue of Public Health Research & Practice (PHRP), a journal of the Sax Institute.
The research article finds that of the 560 people on the Australian Government Register of Lobbyists, 197 stated they had formerly been a government representative. Of those whose job history was identified, most had held influential positions: 18% had been a Member of Parliament and 47% had been a Senior Adviser or Chief of Staff.
This so-called ‘revolving door’ between government and the food, alcohol and gambling industries favours industry interests by enhancing insider knowledge and providing access to policy makers through personal ties, the authors say.
The study is part of a special themed issue of Public Health Research & Practice on countering the so-called ‘commercial determinants of health’ – the web of marketing ploys and other approaches used by large companies to promote products and behaviours that harm human health. The issue is led by Dr Becky Freeman, Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, and Mr Colin Sindall, who was the inaugural Chief Preventive Health Officer for the Victorian Government.
Other papers in this issue find:
- Tobacco giant Philip Morris International is using social media to promote a new tobacco product in Australia and push a campaign designed to weaken tobacco control laws
- Use of the term ‘nanny state’ in the Australian media has contributed to discrediting a range of health-related initiatives such as bike helmets, firearms restriction, seatbelts and pool fences, analysis shows
- Government trade and investment agreements can favour commercial interests at the expense of public health, but there are ways public health advocates can rebalance the scales
- Linking clinicians’ pay to the cost and quality of care in the United States has encouraged healthcare organisations to generate, adopt and apply research evidence in the provision of care.
PHRP is Australia’s first online-only open access peer-reviewed public health journal, with a strong focus on connecting research, policy and practice.
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