Peter Foss

Peter Gilbert da Conceição Foss QC (born 24 March 1946 in England) is a former Australian politician, who represented the Liberal Party.[1]

Peter Foss
In office
22 May 1989 – 21 May 2005
ConstituencyEast Metropolitan Region
Personal details
Born (1946-03-24) 24 March 1946 (age 74)
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England
Political partyLiberal Party

Elected to parliament in the 1989 state election, he was a member of the Western Australian Legislative Council representing the East Metropolitan Region, he was re-elected in 1993, 1996, and 2001. He retired in 2005.[2]

During his time in parliament he served as:

  • Minister for Health; Consumer Affairs: 16 February 1993 – 10 February 1995
  • Minister for the Arts: 16 February 1993 – 22 December 1999[3][4]
  • Minister for Fair Trading: 3 November 1993 – 21 December 1995
  • Minister for Water Resources: 10 February 1995 – 21 December 1995
  • Minister for the Environment: 10 February 1995 – 9 January 1997
  • Attorney General; Minister for Justice: 21 December 1995 – 16 February 2001

He worked as a barrister and solicitor before entering parliament. He was appointed Queen's Counsel while serving as Attorney-General of Western Australia.[5]

Minister for HealthEdit

Western Australia was probably the world capital for lung cancer in the 1980s and 1990s because of the synergies between smoking and asbestos inhalation, so the state bred a particularly fierce anti-smoking activist lobby led by Mike Daube (of ASH) who had joined the WA Health Department. The leader of the West Australian Labor Government, Dr Carmen Lawrence lost an election to the Court Liberals before it could make a substantial move against workplace smoking, Traditionally, Liberal governments supported the tobacco industry against activist moves to restrict smoking (especially in the workplace) but in WA, the Liberal Health Minister Peter Foss took a hard line against smoking.

At a joint meeting of the state Health Ministers acting as a Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy (MCDS) he led the move to have prominent health warnings on every pack with a "Quit" phone number included. This was considered by the industry to be a major threat.[6]

In December 1994 he openly attacked the Tobacco Institute of Australia and its CEO Donna Staunton, saying "the people who sell tobacco can only be described as international drug pushers." [7] This caused much consternation in the party across Australia since the massive donations made to the party in other states were a major source of campaign funding. The tobacco taxes collected supposedly to support a "Quit" campaign had been systematically syphoned off for other budget items.

In November 1994 the Western Australian Health Department announced that it would review the Western Australian Tobacco Control Act which is aimed at restricting sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies. Foss's lead in these efforts was a reason for industry concern around the world because this established a priority that others might follow.[8]

Foss refused to back down saying: "The bill that we have for smoking related diseases is just enormous. And we certainly don't get back in tobacco taxes anything like the sort of money that we spend on hospitals which have an extra load because of the premature illness caused by tobacco." He wanted warnings to cover the entire side of cigarette packets, and he led the other state Health Ministers in an attempt to get uniform generic packet legislation.


  1. ^\Memblist.nsf/WAllMembersFlat/Foss,+Peter+Gilbert+da+Conceicao?opendocument
  2. ^
  3. ^ Laurie, Victoria (23 March 1999), "Culture czar.(Peter Foss)", The Bulletin with Newsweek, A C P Computer Publications, 117 (6166): 64(3), ISSN 1440-7485
  4. ^ Taylor, Catherine, "The arts in Western Australia: starring Peter Foss. [Western Australia's Arts Minister]", Australian (1–2 May 1999): Review 16–18, ISSN 1038-8761
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Industry Documents Library".
  7. ^ "Industry Documents Library".
  8. ^ "Industry Documents Library".