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Monday, 4 September 2006
Page: 13


Senator CONROY (1:26 PM) —I indicate on behalf of the opposition that we will not be supporting the Greens amendment. This amendment effectively requires the Minister for Health and Ageing to vet every food or beverage ad shown during children’s viewing hours. Now, I am not a great fan of Tony Abbott.


Senator Coonan —Oh!


Senator CONROY —No, I am sorry, I am not a great fan, but even I would not require that of Tony Abbott. Labor does not believe that this is a workable or sensible proposal. Childhood obesity is a serious national problem. Seventeen per cent of children and adolescents are overweight and six per cent are obese. Over the last 10 years, the number of obese children has trebled and the number of overweight children has doubled. As Kim Beazley made clear in Labor’s children’s health blueprint, which was released earlier this year, tackling obesity is an urgent priority. Addressing the problem requires a comprehensive plan to promote good nutrition, regular exercise and healthy lifestyles.

State health ministers recently sought to have the issue of children’s obesity discussed at a health ministers’ meeting. The Prime Minister said that the issue should not be discussed by either health ministers or COAG. The opposition rejects that arrogant approach. Labor will work with the task force of state ministers on all aspects of the childhood obesity issue, including the question of what, if any, additional regulation is required on food advertising during children’s viewing hours. Labor will consult with all stakeholders and will consider any evidence that emerges from the current review of Children’s Television Standards being conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Australian parents want real solutions, not the populist gimmicks. The Greens amendment before the Senate today does not represent a workable solution to the problem of childhood obesity and Labor will not be supporting it.