LABOR AND LIBERAL PARTIES REJECT ADVERTISING RESTRICTION RECOMMENDATIONS FROM OBESITY INQUIRY
The report from the Chairman of the Senate Inquiry into the Obesity Epidemic was released on 5 December with 22 recommendations covering a raft of health intervention measures including the introduction of a 20 per cent sugar tax and legislation to restrict discretionary food and drink advertising on free-to-air television until 9.00pm. Both measures were rejected by the major party senators in their dissenting reports.
In addition, both major parties rejected the recommendation of making the Health Star Ratings system mandatory. Labor, in their dissenting report, supports the establishment of a National Obesity Taskforce to conduct a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework for food and drink advertising and marketing to children, in conjunction with relevant health, media and advertising bodies, to ensure the framework is fit for purpose in the contemporary media environment and recommends that a food-identification standard be agreed to inform such review and facilitate uniform implementation. Such a review would be undertaken in conjunction with the ACMA, the AANA and advertising industry, the broadcasting industry and relevant health authorities, according to Labor.
In their dissenting report, Liberal Party Senators state support for a broad, multi-strategy approach to tackling obesity, but do not support the establishment of a taskforce to sit within the Commonwealth Department of Health.
The Liberal Party senators stated that “Australia currently has in place a stringent and effective self-regulatory system for regulating the content of food and non-alcoholic beverage advertising, including advertising to children. The Senators believes that self-regulation provides a robust, transparent and effective way for advertisers to engage with consumers and to respond to consumer’s concerns about advertising. There is no need for government to intervene or legislate. The Senators are of the view that restricting advertising on free-to-air television disproportionally impacts this platform as other platforms, including paid platforms and YouTube, would not be impacted by such restrictions.”