Sugar Demons, Sweet Lobbies and Taxes

It came across on the ABC’s Four Corners as something of a junkie’s confession: I am an addict, and I know.  The conservative MP for the Australian federal seat of Dawson, George Christensen, was not mincing words so much as spouting them in crude confessional form.  Regulating the sugar industry by means of a levy or tax ignored personal responsibility.

“I think that a lot of the issue with obesity has got to come back to telling people that they are personally responsible for the choices they make.”  He was a “fat bloke” who had made regrettable health decisions. He had to accept the consequences of those food choices that found their way down his “gob”.

Christensen is not merely a representative of a federal seat, but representative of a country that has found its way to physical hugeness.  Australia has become one of the fattest nations on the planet, rippling with health worries.  Sixty percent of its populace is overweight or obese. By 2025, the figure will be 80 percent.  It is such figures that have officials and those preoccupied with health policy irate and alarmed.

Christensen’s individualist acceptance is standard form for industries that have found certain costs and regulations unnecessary and damaging to the purse strings.  No changes of behaviour, goes the argument, will be induced by such a sugar levy.  But the sweet lobby in Canberra has moneyed depth and financial dogmatism to pursue this variation of free will gone…

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