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The "ratbags" of Paris

AUSTRALIA's Health Minister Michael Wooldridge is clearly not a man given to subtle expression of his opinions. Having announced that he is against the use of a kangaroo by Rothmans International as its logo for the Winfield cigarette brand - which is backing Williams this year - Wooldridge has now attacked at the FIA, who he says have not stood up to the tobacco industry.

"The people who are the real ratbags in all of this is the FIA," said Wooldridge. "They have been gutless and weak. Most other sporting bodies have toughened up, they haven't and, quite frankly, it's pathetic."

But Wooldridge's complaints - and the criticism of others - seem to have had little effect on Jeff Kennett, the Premier of the State of Victoria and the man who is largely responsible for bringing the Australian GP to Melbourne.

Kennett said that if the Australian government lifted the Grand Prix's current exemption from the tobacco advertising laws, Australia could lose the race.

"There is sufficient evidence to suggest that if a country is to stop allowing cigarette companies to sponsor motor racing - then the race is withdrawn from that country," Kennett said. "You have to weigh up the other benefits."

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