MEDIA RELEASE – Hungry for a scapegoat? Sugar fits the bill again

19 September 2017

Australia’s $2 billion sugar industry has once again found itself in the firing line as public policy makers search for a scapegoat for our nation’s obesity issues.

The release of the eight point policy plan from the Obesity Policy Coalition has again overlooked measures that encourage taking personal responsibility for health concerns and instead calls for a sweeping 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks.

Queensland LNP Senator Barry O’Sullivan said the sugar sector routinely found itself being blamed for the size of the nation’s waistlines, despite overwhelming evidence of broader behavioural influencers.

“Whenever public policy makers are looking for a scapegoat for obesity problems, sugar is always at the top of the list and is routinely singled out and undermined,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“Australians eat fast food on an average of two to three times a week and according to the Australian Medical Association, between 60 and 70 per cent of the Australian population is sedentary or has low levels of physical activity.

“But apparently any obesity issues can be solved with a tax on sugary drinks. This is a nonsense and just Big Brother politics that Australians find justifiably concerning. The health risks from obesity will not be successfully tackled under we accept that the life choices of individuals has to be the focal point of any policy settings.”

 Senator O’Sullivan said with more than 90% of Australia’s entire sugar output grown in Queensland, our state cannot afford to unduly punish cane growing communities. 

“No one doubts that tackling obesity is an important social and health issue in our community, but it cannot be at the expense of one of Queensland’s most important agricultural exports,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“The Queensland sugar industry is a $2 billion market, which exports all around the world and supports countless communities along the state’s rural coastline.

“We will not take a backward step in opposing any public policy proposal that undermines this industry and the communities it feeds.”