Journal article

Interview with Verity Firth: commercial interests and public health policy

Public health Health advocacy Health Lobbying Australia

Governments seeking to implement public health policy often face intense lobbying from industries vying to protect commercial interests. We spoke to Verity Firth, former Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney and NSW Labor Minister (2007–2011), about her experiences to gain insights into ways in which governments can strike the right balance to deliver better health and social outcomes, and how public health advocates can ensure their voices are heard.

Key points:

  • Politicians face intense lobbying from industry and corporate interests regarding public health reforms that impact commercial interests
  • Having well-resourced ‘boutique portfolios’ in government that are focused on specific public health issues (e.g. cancer) gives politicians a stronger platform to promote health reforms
  • Real reform involves a collective effort. The government can work alongside philanthropic organisations and others, such as academics, to win public support for new heath policy in the face of commercial opposition
  • Public health advocates can take advantage of opportunities for reform when cash-strapped governments are keen to introduce visionary policies that don’t require funds, but will win public favour
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