Whenever we try to limit the promotion of unhealthy products, the business lobby cries "nanny state". Well that concept can cut both ways. I had this letter in the Age in February this year.
Three-quarters of Australians consume too much sugar, much of it in the form of soft drinks, according to recent research (The Age, 18/2). Yet our assistant Health Minister, David Gillespie, dismisses calls for a sugar tax as “moralistic and a nanny state response”. The term “nanny state” is telling. Users of this term believe that all people are sufficiently informed to make their own decisions and suffer the consequences. And they don’t see themselves as moralistic, of course. They believe health warnings are unnecessary and the use of taxes to guide consumer behaviour is an assault on our liberty.
But they worry about the wrong nanny. The nanny they don’t see is the corporate nanny. This is the nanny that covers our sporting fields and interrupts our TV shows with ads for fizzy drinks. The same nanny that arranges rows of chocolate bars next to the check-out and sells sugar in energy bars and health drinks. We can’t avoid a nanny state; we need one to keep the capitalist nanny in check.
Tim Read, Brunswick East