Malcolm Turnbull needs to pull his head out of the sand and urgently address the obesity crisis in Australian children.
Yesterday, Olympian Jane Flemming proposed standing desks in classrooms, as well as drop-off zones to encourage active travel to the school gate. These were constructive suggestions that could help respond to the fact that 1 in 4 Australian children is overweight or obese.
But as soon as standing desks were on the table, Malcolm Turnbull ruled them out.
Yesterday’s stubborn refusal is just the latest in a long line of failures on preventive health from Turnbull and the Liberals.
In his speech to the National Press Club in February, Turnbull promised “a new focus on preventive health [to] give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives”. But his Budget delivered next to nothing, prompting the Public Health Association of Australia to label the Budget as “particularly disappointing” and say “the Prime Minister’s rhetoric on prevention falls way short”.
The 2017 Budget failure follows the disastrous 2014 Budget, in which the Liberals cut $368 million from Labor’s investment in preventive health and abolished the Australian National Preventive Health Agency. This forced an end to important programs around Australia, like the Healthy Together Communities in Victoria.
With the obesity crisis only getting worse, Malcolm Turnbull needs to swallow his pride and follow Labor’s lead on tackling childhood obesity. At the last election, Labor committed $300 million to build healthy communities and prevent chronic disease. This would have included a National Physical Activity Strategy to get all Australians moving more, as well as a new effort to improve the food that all Australians can access.\
Australia’s children can’t wait for the next Labor Government. Malcolm Turnbull needs to act now.
SATURDAY, 27 MAY 2017