Comment

The Fitz Files: Sugar tax, a form of prepaid health insurance

 

In the wake of Great Britain introducing their sugar tax – hammering, most particularly, drinks with more than eight grams of sugar per 100 millilitres – there have been many sensible subsequent calls for the same to be done here, followed by predictable howls of protest, decrying the "nanny state".

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Sugar tax gains momentum

The UK's move to tax sugary soft drinks comes amid a growing campaign to raise awareness of the health implications of consuming too much of the sweet stuff.

In fact, it is quite the reverse. It's not about the nanny state treating people like babies, it is the state saying, "listen, you bastards, we wish you wouldn't keep pouring sugar water and the like down your throats, but if you're gunna, you may as well start paying us now for the hospital bills you'll inevitably face later ... so, put on your big boy pants and start coughing up now".

Simple as that – and on exactly the same principle as it makes sense to whack extra taxes on cigarettes. It is going to cost a fortune to deal with your diseased lungs, so who better to start paying for it now, than you? Fire at will. See if I care.

Illustration: Reg Lynch
Illustration: Reg Lynch 

It's not the end

The failed Kiwi flag referendum?

No big deal, particularly. We in Australia know for a fact it will take us two goes to become a republic, so it is hardly surprising that it will take them at least two goes to find a better symbol for their nation than the flag of another nation as the key feature of their flag. But those who think that's the end of it for yonks, you are mistaken. When nearly half the Kiwi population can look at the current flag and prefer another, it is clear that their current flag is no longer the overwhelmingly accepted symbol of unity that every national flag should be. It will come up again.

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We regret

In the realms of newspaper corrections, they don't come much better than this one, run in The New York Times this week.

An article on Wednesday about Sri Srinivasan, an Indian-born appeals court judge ... misspelled the name of the village in India where the judge has many relatives. As the article correctly noted elsewhere, it is Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram, not Mela Thiruvenkanathapuram. (There is one syllable – "ta" – missing, between "ka" and "na." With the additional letters, the town is pronounced MAY-la THEE-roo VEN-ka-ta NA-tha POO-ram. This correction, it should be noted, has been carefully proofread.)" I'll bet!

Republican matters

Speaking of the republic, your humble correspondent will be speaking at the Union Bar Hotel in Orange at 6pm on Easter Monday. Come along!

They said it

"I voted to keep the flag – not really because I didn't like the idea of change, more because the proposed new flag is so very ugly and a bit embarrassing. And it reminds me too much of rugby and a corporate logo."

Wellington resident Sarah Newbold why she voted against change.

"The attacks in Brussels are an unfortunate reminder of how violent Islamist extremism appears to have reached a crisis point in Europe. European governments are confronted by a perfect storm of failed or neglected integration, foreign fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, porous borders and intelligence and security apparatus struggling to keep pace with the scope and breadth of the threat."

Prime Minister Turnbull, after the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

"It's dangerous because it's precisely what [Islamic State] wants – that we would make a confusion between terrorism and migrants and between terrorism and Islam. My view is that the terrorists who committed the latest attacks in Paris and in Belgium are European-raised and born. Maybe from foreign origins, but they are Europeans. So it has nothing to do with the refugee crisis ..."

Belgium's ambassador to Australia Jean-Luc Bodson returns serve.

"Luke is awkward and nervous about sex, he has no [substantial] history of sex. We looked at that as a real opportunity to explore how to get better at sex from the perspective that if Luke was able to do it, anyone can. He is further out on the awkwardness spectrum than most of us are ..."

ABC TV's head of entertainment Jon Casimir on the new six-week show Luke Warm Sex.

"Hopefully he's run his lifelong odds and we're done ..." Chad Wells, whose 19-year-old son, Mason, was at the Boston marathon bombing and also at Brussels airport during the attacks, to narrowly survive both unharmed.

"I did not call Scott Morrison on Sunday night. No, I did not. It was a very small circle."

Prime Minister Turnbull to Mrs TFF on the Today Show, on not telling his own Treasurer he had brought the budget forward. When she questioned, "Scott Morrison is not in that small inner circle?" the PM more or less conceded that to be the case, but did maintain he was "in the loop", a fine distinction.

"I mean, if you had 13 mass shootings before Port Arthur and you had none since, isn't that evidence? And you had a 74 per cent fall in the gun-related suicide rates, isn't that evidence? Or are we expected to believe that that was all magically going to happen? Come on."

John Howard on CBS, on his introduction of the gun laws.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz