Interesting article below from the SMH. It begs the question of whether John Howard's government wants to cut obesity at all, as this website has pointed out over the last 12 months:
Doctors want budget cash to fight obesity
Email Print Normal font Large font By Mark Metherell and Jessica Irvine
November 15, 2005
Doctors have called on the Treasurer, Peter Costello, to devote $500 million more to health in next year's budget, including an expanded campaign to counter obesity.
But whether it will be Mr Costello who digs into what is forecast to be a fat surplus for the fight against obesity remains unclear.
The deadline for budget submissions from business and community groups passed last Friday.
With speculation intensifying over whether the Prime Minister, John Howard, will hand the leadership to Mr Costello next year, the Treasurer's office declined to confirm yesterday whether he would deliver the budget on May 9.
His spokeswoman referred to a response Mr Costello gave last week in which he said he had made his position clear and would not be adding to it. Previously this year, Mr Costello has said he would take "one budget at a time", and when asked in Parliament last month when he would be handing down the budget said he would continue "to discharge my office and to keep the Australian economy strong".
The revelation of a record budget surplus of $13.6 billion for the past financial year has left lobby groups clamouring for a share of any resultant largesse in next year's budget.
But despite numerous calls for lower marginal tax rates and thresholds, the Treasurer has declined to promise further cuts.
"My principle has always been this: if you can balance your budget, if you can pay for the security of the country, if you can finance the looming costs we know we have in health, if you can keep your budget in surplus to keep interest rates down and have the capacity to do so, you ought to lower tax," he said last week.
Business groups remain circumspect on who they think will hand down next year's budget.
"Whoever is in the treasurer's chair will do," said the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Hendy.
But the business groups have a firm enough relationship with the current Treasurer to allow them to run late with their submission.
Mr Hendy said the chamber's submission was running "a little late", but that it would focus heavily on the need for further tax changes. The Business Council of Australia had also been granted an extension, and while it will not make its submission public, the council has been consistently lobbying for lower taxes and increased investment in infrastructure.
The Australian Industry Group had been granted an extension until this Friday, and would focus on the interests of its members, rather than the interests of any particular treasurer, a spokesman said.
The National Farmers Federation also had not finalised its recommendations.
The president of the Australian Medical Association, Mukesh Haikerwal, said $400 million more a year was needed to finance better primary health care for indigenous patients. He said the association had identified obesity as "a national crisis" and proposed a $20 million project, including a national nutrition centre.
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Just sent this off the the Letters at SMH:
(interesting to see whether it will get up)
Mark Metherell and Jessica Irvine (15/11/05) have suggested that "Doctors want budget cash to fight obesity" but they are probably asking the wrong government. Some measures have rates of obesity doubling under the decade of the Howard government, and its policies suggest that it is actually trying to encourage, not reduce, obesity. The government is planning to legislate to reduce membership of sports unions at universities, which you would only do if you wanted students to play less sport. Under Medicare it has far more generous funding for doctors who specialise in diseases of physical inactivity (e.g. cardiologists, endocrinologists) than physical activity (sports physicians). Again, this is how you would run things if you wanted to discourage sports participation. John Howard appears to have worked out there are a lot more votes in encourgaging people to watch sport than to actually play it. Until this government actually declares that it wants to increase physical activity levels, there seems to be little point asking them to donate money to the cause.