AUSTRALIA: More sex suggested as alternative to sugar tax

Published: 07/12/2018, 5:24:47 PM

The Senate's inquiry into the obesity epidemic in Australia is a political exercise to endorse the Australian Greens' policy for a sugar tax, said Terry Barnes, policy consultant and fellow of UK think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, according to Australia's MirageNews.

This inquiry was set up by the Greens with loaded terms of reference that assume a sugar tax on soft drinks and government intervention in people's private lives are good, and the food and beverage industry - typically labelled Big Food - is evil, Barnes said in his submission to the Inquiry.

"The Greens, and their allies in the public health and medical sectors, are asserting control over the decisions and behaviour of millions of rational Australians by imposing a regressive, punitive tax on the socially disadvantaged and less well-off".

"In their ‘we know best' way, public health activists presume anyone else must be punished for making the ‘wrong' choices. They insist you and I can't make sensible, informed choices, including choosing to enjoy life's little pleasures in moderation."

Barnes said the Greens want the inquiry to pin the blame on the food and beverage industry for Australia's obesity problem, although the real issue is simply that we as a nation put in far more calories than we burn up. It is more than what we eat; it is what we do or don't do.

"We are more interested in computers, smartphones and Netflix than getting out and about, walking, playing sport or exercising", Barnes says in his submission. "Yet too often we're told not to take responsibility for our actions and blame Big Food, Big Advertising or some other Big Whipping Boy".

Promoting and rewarding more exercise and physical activity, and ensuring Australians have impartial, reliable information about their dietary choices, is far better than imposing punitive sugar and fat taxes.

In his submission, Barnes suggested having more sex would be more useful than ideological taxes. "Sex is a physical activity burning lots of calories, and also has a social purpose. Studies indicate Australians are having less sex due to less physically active, more stressful and more sedentary lives.

"So instead of recommending a nasty and punitive sugar tax, the inquiry would do better by encouraging more ‘horizontal jogging' as well as the vertical kind and other physical exercise."

Barnes also questioned the consistency of principle in Greens leader and Inquiry chairman Richard Di Natale's support for a sugar tax, as in 2014 the senator stridently opposed the mandatory A$6 co-payment for GP services that Mr Barnes then proposed and defended.

"Senator Di Natale said then, in no uncertain terms, that price signals have no place in health care. A sugar tax is a price signal in health care, as was the GP co-payment. One can't be right and the other wrong", Barnes said.