Tony Merriman

Dodgy petition secretly changed

Carrick Graham outlines how the organisers of an anti-sugar petition have quietly changed the wording of their petition after being busted for lying.

Late yesterday, the organisers of a sugar petition suddenly changed the wording of their online ?Petition for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages? at

This followed criticism on multiple blogs, including Kiwiblog, which called it ?A misleading petition?.

The sugar tax petition said that ?New Zealand has a problem. We are the third fattest nation in the world?. This is not true, and Kiwiblog provided reference to the WHO database for obesity by country that showed New Zealand ranked 29th, not third as claimed by the petition organisers.

Now some would say that changing the wording of the petition to be factually correct is a good thing. Perhaps, but one would have thought that an explanation would be required to the 4,000 odd people that signed this online petition about why the sudden change of wording was needed.

As a result of this change, you have a situation where the petition organisers have been misleading the signatories about the New Zealand?s place in worldwide obesity rankings.

Simply put, changing the wording of a petition three-quarters of the way through ? after being found to be inaccurate – reeks of ?oh well never mind, it?s all right, it doesn?t really matter?.

But it isn?t right. And it does matter.

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