Malcolm Turnbull’s obsession with lifting the GST and extending it to fresh food would drive up Australia’s already alarming rates of obesity and be a disaster for health from a government determined to wreck Australia’s health system.
The latest ABS National Health survey, released only yesterday, shows 63.4 per cent of Australian adults or 11.2 million people are now overweight or obese, up from 56.3 per cent in 1995.
Alarmingly, these figures are only likely to get worse, with the survey finding around one in four children aged 5-17 years are already overweight or obese.
The recent global burden of disease study already rates our poor diet as the biggest contributor to disease and illness in Australia, followed by obesity.
The Turnbull Government whacking a new 15 per cent tax on fruit, vegetables, milk, bread, meat and seafood will only add to this crisis by tipping the balance more towards junk food and making it more expensive to have a healthier diet.
Treasury figures show raising the GST to 15 per cent and extending it to fresh food would hit families for another $9.45 billion a year, an extraordinary impost that, as always with the GST, would fall hardest on those with the least to spare.
With over 11 million Australians overweight, and around 1 million already living with diabetes, a tilt in the tax base away from healthier food can only worsen health outcomes.
Coupled with a government that has slashed spending on preventative health programs, slashed funding to health organisations and is trying to make it harder and more expensive to see a GP through its four year freeze on Medicare rebates, the Liberals’ GST on fresh food would be a disaster for health.
Malcolm Turnbull needs to come clean on his plans to extend the GST to fresh food.