Sugar tax idea “bonkers mad”, says Joyce

soft-drink_1-372x270

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has slammed the proposal to introduce a sugar tax and said eating less and exercise are the ways to reduce obesity.

As the SMH reports, Joyce was responding to a report presented to  Parliament which claims there should be a tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar on sugary soft drinks.

The report by the Gratton Institute estimates that community or “third party” costs of obesity were about A$5.3 billion in 2014/15; and says a tax would not only reduce obesity levels but also recoup some of these costs.

But Joyce, who is also Agriculture Minister and has warned of the devastating affect a sugar tax would have on the sugar industry of North Queensland, said the National Party would not support it.

“If you want to deal with being overweight, here’s a suggestion: stop eating so much and do a bit of exercise,” he said.

“This is one of these suggestions right from the start we always thought was bonkers mad but now it’s getting more and more momentum so we have to say, ‘We are not going to be supporting a sugar tax’.”

He said the comparison with the tobacco excise does not hold because all cigarettes are bad for you, while the occasional soft drink is not.

“I believe in the freedom of the individual … We the government are not going to moralise about what you take out of the fridge,” he said.