AUSTRALIA already has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.
One third of the nation’s adult population are considered overweight and a jaw-dropping 95 per cent fail to hit their two serves of fruits and five serves of vegetables each day.
So it seems absolutely insane anyone would float the idea of stacking a 15 per cent goods and services tax on fresh food.
A National Party backbencher has proposed just that, extending the idea to also include education, healthcare and childcare.
While the price of most processed food has edged up through the current form of the GST, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, eggs, bread, some dairy products and other basic items are currently exempt from the tax.
An often-heard remark from parents already struggling under the pressures of electricity bills, groceries, school fees and mortgage repayments is that they don’t push their children to eat more fresh fruit and veg because it’s just too expensive.
For many, five bucks worth of hot chips seems a better plan for a snack on a Saturday afternoon than a plate of carrot sticks and hummus.
But if we want to gain any ground in the fight against obesity and it’s chronic disease side effects, we have to make it as easy and cheap as possible to pack more green leafy vegies and succulent stone fruit into our diets.
We need incentives to eat fresh food, not a government push towards more junk just because that’s what will fill treasury’s pockets faster than a packet of M&Ms fills a fat kid’s cheeks.
Thankfully, Labor and The Greens have rejected the proposal while Riverina MP Michael McCormack has also vowed to argue against it in the party room.
PM Malcolm Turnbull also reiterated that any changes to the tax system “have got to be ones that ensure that there is no disadvantage to the most vulnerable Australians”.
We need to give this fresh food tax a wide berth and instead look at options such as a soft drink tax.
Aussies drink a reported 1.28 billion litres of soft drink a year.
When you think of the cash a further tax on this sugary pop could rake in, the dollar signs should be popping into the government’s eyes, Bugs Bunny-style.
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