Māori Party looking at fast tracking sugar tax

By Semi Holland

The Māori Party is backing a petition calling for a tax on sugary drinks. The petition at change.org is gaining momentum with over 7000 signatures. MP Marama Fox says they may look to introduce a private members bill for a sugar tax given sugary beverages make up a large portion of the sugar consumed particularly by children.

This online petition at change.org has prompted the Māori Party to look at introducing a private members bill to Parliament for a sugar tax.

Fox told Te Kāea, “Yes, that's also one of our goals. But perhaps we can approach the minister directly to fast track this issue.”

The petition by Healthy Food Guide magazine has been online for several months. Petition spokesperson Niki Bezzant says the petition now has over 7000 supporters.

“I'd like to see the price of these drinks reflect a little bit the harm that they do so if we can nudge people in the direction of making a better choice not choosing a sugary or choosing them less often or just choosing water.”

In 2014, former Māori Party co-leader and anti-smoking advocate Tariana Turia introduced a bill for plain packaging on cigarette packets. That legislation was passed this year.

Fox says the party will now advocate for a sugar tax.

“The price of cigarettes was increased, but we had discussions over a long period with the government before that came to fruition, and now we are following this path.”

Ministry of Health statistics show one in nine children, are considered obese. Sugary beverages make up a large portion of the sugar consumed particularly by children.

Bezzant hopes the petition will attract 20,000 supporters over the next several months.

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