PPTA backs calls for sugar tax

  • 18/03/2016
PPTA backs calls for sugar tax

Debate over whether NZ should adopt a sugar tax like the UK is heating up, but the Government says it's not on the table.

An education expert believes New Zealand's most vulnerable are losing out, as the Government once again shuts down calls for a sugar tax.

Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) president Angela Roberts says those in charge aren't thinking about children.

"The Government came in a few years ago and removed all of the guidelines around healthy eating within schools," says Ms Roberts.

"Teachers really miss that. They're aware of how important it is for kids to learn how to have a healthy diet."

Head of the Salvation Army's Community Ministries Major Pam Waugh agrees, but told the Paul Henry programme part of the problem with some healthy alternatives is their price tag.

"We see people who take those drinks off supermarket shelves because it's available and it is cheaper than milk."

Ms Waugh says for families that don't have a lot of income to spend on treats for their kids, sugary drinks can be a way to fill that void.

"It's an education thing and families don't have a lot of expenditure for treats and things like that, so a sugary drink is a quick treat off a shelf. It keeps the children happy for that time."

However, she does acknowledge there is a fine line between keeping children happy and healthy and also protecting the families' budget.

"So it is about keeping them informed, helping them learn the balance between doing that, saving money and keeping the children healthy," says Ms Waugh.

Cabinet Minister Paula Bennett also spoke to Paul Henry this morning and said taxing families "doing it tough" doesn’t make sense.

"A figure I've heard mentioned as revenue the Government could get from a sugar tax is $50 million to $80m,"

"And that comes from poor people's pockets -- we collect if from people who are earning it or who are on benefits, doing it tough."

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a sugar tax is not something New Zealand is actively considering.