Dismissal of sugar tax leaves a sour taste

How very predictable. This week, when a coalition of professionals in the field of obesity and health suggested that the beginning of the answer to Australia’s obesity crisis – 63 per cent of adults are overweight, as are 27 per cent of kids, and the numbers are climbing – is to have a sugar tax on soft drinks, the Coalition LNP dismissed it out of hand.

“I think we have enough taxes,” the Prime Minister said, “and there are enough imposts on us all when we go to the supermarket and we go shopping.”

The answer then, according to the Prime Minister?

“Labelling is very important,” he said, “health messages through the media … but also exercise. Get up and walk.”

Seriously, Prime Minister?

“Labelling,” you say? As you likely know, the labelling system is a disgrace, with the health-star rating system giving the likes of Nutrigrain cereal – that is about a third-sugar – four out of five stars! And if you put Milo, which is about half sugar, into skim milk it gets four and a half-stars of health, ready to go! And we all need to exercise, too, and get up and walk?

Brilliant! One wonders why those other countries that have introduced a sugar tax didn’t think of that?

Of course, they did. But their experience, as analysed by the coalition of obesity professionals is that the sugar tax works in those countries. It not only helps reduce sugar consumption, and therefore obesity, but also takes from those who overdo it the money needed to prop up the very health budget they will soon be calling on. This is a serious issue, an idea whose time is coming, and it cannot simply be dismissed with an airy pronouncement on the virtues of labelling and exercise.

It pays to dress up

The best story of the week? That would be Craigburn Primary School in South Australia deciding on a fund-raising venture which involved allowing students and staff to wear a dress to school in the hope of raising money for the Do It In A Dress charity, which helps send girls in developing countries to school. They hoped to raise $900. Enter Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi, who attempted to hijack the worthy cause and drive it right into the middle of his same-sex marriage culture wars, willfully misrepresenting the whole thing and tweeting, “One school in SA now has ‘wear a dress day’. This gender morphing is really getting absurd”.

The result? The usual fools believed him, even as decent Australia took one look at it, realised the absurdity of Bernardi’s claims, and opened their pockets. The school has now raised a wonderful $190,000 and counting!

Joke of the Week

A painter by the name of Laval, while not a brilliant scholar, is a gifted portrait artist. Over a short number of years, his fame grows and soon people from all over Ireland are coming to his town of Lochlare, to get him to paint their likeness. One day, a beautiful young English woman arrives at his house in a stretch limo and asks if he would paint her in the nude. This being the first time anyone had made such a request he is a bit perturbed, particularly when the woman tells him that money is no object; in fact, she is willing to pay up to £10,000. Not wanting to get into any marital strife, he asks her to wait while he goes into the house to confer with Mary, his wife. They talk much about the rightness and wrongness of it. It is hard to make the decision but finally his wife agrees, on one condition.

In a few minutes he returns. “It would be me pleasure to paint yer portrait, missus,” he says. “The wife says it’s OK. I’ll paint you in the nude all right; but I have to at least leave me socks on, so I have a place to wipe me brushes.”

Quotes of the Week

“Now before we get to conviction, or the lack thereof, let’s look again at what Abbott has done when he’s had power and opportunity, as opposed to the expression of feelings during his second career delivering careless whispers in Ray Hadley’s locker room, or during staff reunion night on Sky News After Dark.”

Katherine Murphy in The Guardian

“The last time we had clarity and bipartisanship was when I agreed a policy framework with the then leader of the opposition, Malcolm Turnbull. What happened to him? Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party tore him down and they have been waging an ideological war in this space for almost a decade. So far, you have been unable to come to the negotiating table because you’re still dealing with an ideological argument of people who decide that renewables are somehow the end of the world. It’s about time that everybody grew up.”

Senator Penny Wong on Q&A

“For me the most compelling reason to support the ‘yes’ campaign is that, should any human be treated differently under the law? There’s no doubt there are people with religious views and faiths [… but] that doesn’t stop any one of us from supporting what is right.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian

“What a deeply felt privilege it is to support the promotion of marriage equality.”

Professor Dame Marie Bashir ex-governor of NSW.

“Standing up to remove prejudice and discrimination is not just about yourself, it’s about everyone else as well.”

NSW Greens upper house MP Mehreen Faruqi at the launch of the group Muslims for Marriage Equality.

“Sometimes when you’re acting you get a chance to bring a bigger message and with this [role] we shine a light on domestic abuse. It’s a complicated, insidious disease and by you acknowledging me, it shines a light on it even more.”

Nicole Kidman accepting an Emmy for her performance in Big Little Lies.

“I know I’m not your typical Bachelorette. I’m 37, I’m a massive bogan. And I really hope Australia backs me on this and don’t think I’m a tool.”

Sophie Monk

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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