Canegrowers CEO bitter on sugar tax 'fix'
CANEGROWERS chief executive officer Dan Galligan has questioned whether imposing a tax on sugary drinks will be the most effective way to tackle Australia's obesity rates, arguing the tactic has yet to be proven successful in countries where the legislation already exists.
The fears come after a Senate Committee report this week recommended the Federal Government impose a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, mandate Health Star Ratings and ban junk food ads on television until 9pm.
The Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic delivered 19 other recommendations in its report, including more funding for public education programs and a national task force to implement the findings of the inquiry - the aim of which is to improve public health, reduce sugar consumption and urge manufacturers to cut the sugar levels in their products.
Both major parties opposed a sugar tax and advertising restrictions, with Labor, Liberal, One Nation and coalition senators on the committee issuing dissenting reports saying a taskforce was unnecessary and that the current Health Star Rating system should remain voluntary.
With so many people's lives intertwined with the cane industry, Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan wrote the NewsMail this week.
Mr Calligan said the report "highlighted how divided opinions are on the issue of a sugar tax”.
"Five of the seven senators on the committee ... based their dissenting view on the lack of evidence that such a tax would work in the way that its proponents suggest,” he wrote in a letter to the editor.
"Canegrowers has been saying for some time that it would be dangerous to have as a key tactic to addressing obesity a measure which is not proven, is very narrow and is distracting from the broad range and complex factors behind Australia's obesity rates.
"These dissenting reports appear to back that up.”
Acknowledging the country's increasing obesity rates, Mr Galligan said the Senate inquiry had shown the need for a proven solution to the issue.
"This conversation (will) hopefully lead to a coordinated and evidence-based response,” he said.
"Australia is facing a significant challenge in tackling the increasing rates of obesity within our communities and, in this context, Canegrowers acknowledges the recent Senate inquiry.
"(But), as Australian consumers, we support measures, such as labelling.”