More health troughers score big from the Marsden Fund

Another set of health troughers has been revealed to be attacking food and drink manufacturers and all funded by the Marsden Fund.

A “sin tax” on unhealthy items is often touted as a way to stop people having them so often, but it might drive them to cheaper brands.

A team led by a University of Waikato researcher has just received $800,000 to study the idea, focusing on sugary soft drinks and cigarettes.

And while the data they’ll analyse doesn’t come from New Zealand, the findings have implications for Kiwis.

Economics professor John Gibson is leading a team looking into whether a “sin tax” would bring down consumption of fizzy drink and cigarettes.

It was one of four Waikato-led projects to receive funding from the Marsden Fund, and reaped $805,000.

“There are New Zealand studies which say 20 per cent fizzy drink tax would save X number of lives and those are the studies we have some questions about,” Gibson said.

There was a loophole in data which focused on spend rather than quantity bought, he said.

“They might simply go from drinking expensive Coke to either cheaper Coke . . . or they might go from Coke down to Pams or Homebrand,” he said.

For instance, Countdown sells a 600ml bottle of Coca Cola for $3.99 whereas 1.25L of Homebrand Lemonade is just 97 cents.

“The existing studies assume the reduction in spending translates to a reduction in quantity,” Gibson said. ?

He suspects a tax would drive people to search out products that give a better bang for their buck.

And if consumption isn’t going down the predicted benefits won’t be there, he said.

“That’s why [knowing the effects] matters quite a lot to Treasury, Ministry of Health.”

Data for the three-year study is coming from Mexico and Indonesia as the right information wasn’t available here, he said.

Research indicated taxes could influence people’s health behaviour in the long term, Emma Sinclair of Emma’s Food Bag said.

This is the thing that galls me the most. These health troughers get government funding to study things they have already made their mind up about, then use the state funded research to bash up the very people who funded them in the first place, the taxpaying manufacturers.

They are of course aided and abetted by politicians who think that only these guys should be allowed to speak on matters related and mount with-hunts from within the protections of parliament against people who do challenge and confront these state funded troughers and their very often whack ideas.

Instead of attacking critics in parliament perhaps Kevin Hague might like to look at the batshit crazy statements of?troughers like Doug Sellman, who thinks Foodstuffs are like drug dealers, and Boyd Swinburn who uses his grant monies to swan around the world sharing his “wisdom”.

Kevin Hague wants to shut down debate, I want to encourage it.

This should be a wake up call to corporates who think if they shiver in fear and say nothing then these troughers will leave their businesses alone. Think again, they are well funded, with your own taxes and they are coming for you!

No blonde doris training in marketing sitting outside the CEOs office is ever going to compete with well funded troughers with the media in their pockets.


– Fairfax