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List your examples of where policy trumps Law

I am sure we can all list where policy, that is the way government laws and business constitutions are put into practice, that do not reflect those laws and constitutions. So I created this topic so people can list them and then it allows us all to create topics from that list to expand those concerns and hopefully drive change. Just an example could be “ASIC does not investigate Banking behaviour instead relying on Banks to self monitor and report” and then providing some summary detail of how this occurs. This example could then be expanded and discussed in it’s own topic on this site.

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Would that idea cover bodies that are set up, paid for and have the members appointed by government to independently review something that the government has done/not done? I’d give an example but there are too many to choose from lol.

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It’s like a “how good we are, by us” review … and if we are good, then we aren’t bad, so the law doesn’t matter. All of government you’d think, and anyone who donates to the parties - so all of business as well … and then some … then the law.

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I suppose one I can see coming up is the introduction of a ‘sugar tax’. There seems to be a belief in government that to curb human behaviour, add a tax and it will change it.

The success of a sugar tax in other countries is questionable and have been doing a little research lately to see if it would be an effective method to reduce sugar consumption. Appears a sugar tax may not the a panacea some interest groups think it may be.

If the government was serious about dietary sugar intake, they possibly would regulate the maximum concentration/calorie component of added sugar in processed foods. For example, regulating that maximum % added (or total) sugar in soft drinks/processed foods being 3%.

I expect that some items like lollies and raw sugar would need exemptions, but these could have clear labelling of the percentage of sugar contained in the products. Blind Freddy also knows that these are already high in sugar, where as may have a mistaken belief that a pre-made meal is low in sugar.

Often new policies of government are a reactionary response to an issue, without much forethought on what would be the best long term solution. Sometimes doing a quick fix irrespective of the outcomes is what they want to achieve…as this is seen to be doing something even if it is not overly successful. The other problem with a small tax like a sugar tax is is they often cost more to administer than the revenue generated, meaning general revenue which should be spent on other things are used to prop up the tax system. The other problem with a tax is a cost to the economy as a whole…just like the diseases it is trying to reduce.

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I’m not totally sold on the idea of a tax on soft drinks & the like (the most probable targets of any new tax) but I am also not convinced such a tax would not work. Most of the arguments against have been raised by the companies that produce those products, which of course is no surprise. They do not want to see a potential loss of sales and will do anything to protect their bottom line. It’s also true though that governments can be trigger happy when it comes to suggestions made as a ‘quick fix’ to complex issues, and obesity is one such issue looming large for our future health budgets. Can a tax on a product contribute to a targeted health outcome? As a long time smoker of around 40 years that has recently quit I can say yes. The expense of cigarettes now with the high rate of tax on them was a major factor in my decision to quit (all smokers know that the addiction is bad for us lol). The price point proved to be that extra incentive to give them away, and from talking to many fellow smokers who have given up (both in person and online) I have found the same to be true of them.

It’s no surprise that evidence is showing no huge reductions in the consumption of sugary drinks where the tax has been introduced considering they have not been operating for long. The tax on smoking has been in effect for many years yet took a while to begin having an effect on the numbers of smokers - most of the people I have had discussions with have given up in the last year or two. Is it worth trying something as blunt as a tax to encourage people not to consume as many sugar laden drinks? In the absence of anything else I would be tempted to say yes. Something needs to be done as the facts show even with all the information out there our obesity situation is only getting worse (again it was a similar case with smoking), so the public can’t be trusted to make the changes on their own.

Of course there are technical problems with the introduction of such a tax. What products do you put it on, which products are excluded, how is the tax calculated, who collects it, etc. I do think that whilst it’s a blunt instrument it could be argued that it’s fairer than some other options I’ve seen thrown about to fix the problem. A sugar tax would only be paid by those making the choice to consume those products, if you don’t buy the items you don’t pay the tax. Another option I’ve seen to fight obesity is an extra Medicare levy for those who are obese. Whilst that may be attractive for those who are not obese, it fails to take into account that not every obese person is that way because of drinking soft drinks/eating too many lollies. That means that people who may be obese because of a medical condition are slugged for something which did not involve a personal choice for them.

I’ve also seen suggestions for a ‘junk food tax’ which again would only be targeting those that choose to consume the products which are taxed. Same technical problems arise if wanting to institute such a tax though - is it only McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. that get hit or do you take it all the way to local take away outlets, pizza joints, etc.

It’s a major problem that needs to be addressed as who knows what health system my 6yo son will grow up into? On current trends our country will not be able to afford to carry the cost of obesity related conditions going forward, without of course raising other taxes or the Medicare levy to huge amounts. I don’t think anyone wants to see us go down the road of the USA, where you do not get good medical outcomes unless you have good personal insurance. Would people be happier with a blunter instrument - say people who are obese without medical proof of an underlying condition causing it have to cover their own health costs outside the Medicare system for anything that can be attributed to obesity? I doubt that would go down well because people would then look at it like a type of class system.

Hard problem with no easy solutions, but I can say with certainty that I believe Coca-Cola and the like will not be rushing to the forefront to fix it lol.

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