Should Australia adopt a sugar tax?

With the UK announcing that it will introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks, outspoken celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is calling on Australia to “pull its finger out” and do the same.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that, in two years’ time, Britain will place a levy on drinks that contain five grams of sugar per 100 millilitres. The sugar tax is being introduced in an attempt to reduce the rapidly rising rate of childhood obesity in the UK.

“We all know one of the biggest contributors to childhood obesity is sugary drinks,” said Chancellor Osborne. “I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation, ‘I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease but we ducked the difficult decisions’.”

Jamie Oliver, a tireless activist for healthy eating, was both surprised and rapt by the announcement, quickly taking to social media to urge other countries to do the same.

“It’s about time your governments got on this,” he said. “Australia, pull your finger out.”

The UK’s sugar tax is expected to raise £UK520 million ($967 million) per year. With our own Government looking for ways to raise revenue, and especially considering that Australia is the world’s third-largest consumer of raw sugar, a sugar tax doesn’t seem such a bad idea. In fact, it could be a win-win for the economy and for the health of our nation.

Here’s a look at just how much sugar per 100ml is contained in many popular soft drinks:

  • Solo: 12.1g
  • Fanta: 11.2g
  • Red Bull: 11g
  • Bundaberg Ginger Beer: 10.8g
  • Coca Cola: 10.6g
  • Sprite: 10.1g
  • Vitamin Water: 5.49g
  • Lipton Ice Tea: 5.3g

The introduction of the tax is being delayed to allow soft drink manufacturers the time to change their product mix.

Whilst the Australian sugar industry is concerned that a tax such as this would be passed on to producers, it doesn’t seem too worried about a sugar tax being implemented in the near future.

“We are quite confident that there isn’t the political climate in Australia to have this tax introduced at this point in time,” said Canegrowers Queensland Chairman Paul Schembri.

Do you think a sugar tax is a good idea? Would you be prepared to pay more for your favourite soft drink?


Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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