Report: Aussies should pay soft drink ‘sugar tax’

We drink far too much soft drink in this country and it’s putting a massive burden on our health system.

So says the Grattan Institute, which has released a new report calling for Australia to introduce a tax on sugary drinks.

A sugary drinks tax: recovering the community costs of obesity calls for a new excise tax on all non-alcoholic, water-based drinks that contain added sugar, at a rate of 40c per 100 grams of sugar.


This translates to around 40c per litre of sweet sugary carbonated liquid. A 600ml bottle of coke would increase by around 25-30c, and a 2L bottle purchased from the supermarket would jump up by 80c.

Such a move would put around $500 million a year into government coffers, which would help offset the $5 billion-plus that obesity costs Australian taxpayers, according to Grattan Institute estimates.

If a sugar tax was passed, honestly, it would be no skin off my nose – I drink soft drink once a fortnight if I’m lucky.

I know someone who will, though; my brother, who currently slams back 5 or 6 cans of coke every single day.

He works on a building site and in summer, it’s really bloody hot. He cools off with a soft drink or six. In winter when it’s cooler, he claims that he’s less motivated and that coke gives him an extra pep in his step.

It’s a shocking amount of caffeine to ply into your system and we’ve all had a go at him about his excessive soft drink consumption. He knows it’s terrible for his health. His teeth are in shocking condition and I can only imagine how his gut health is coping with that constant influx of chemicals and caffeine.

Yet, he’s not going to give up. Having to spend an extra dollar or two a day to fuel his soft drink addiction isn’t going to dissuade him, either.

Not that he needs to worry; I reckon Coca Cola Amatil is going to campaign pretty darn hard to keep this from being legislated.

What do you think? Should sugary soft drinks be heavily taxed? Or should grown ups to act like, well, grown ups, and wear the consequences when they make decisions about their health – for better or for worse?