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Keeping good company…

In my previous post about The tax hike on Gaspers one of my commentators made precisely the same observation…

The South Australian Senator said smoking was a “hideous habit” but people had the right to indulge it in a free country.

“We’ve all got to choose our way to go, everyone’s going to die of something,” he said.

“If people choose to die of smoking, I as a Liberal think well that’s your problem but go for it.”

The government was “slugging poor old smokers every time they need money” by proposing the tax hike.

But being a lefty I sort of doubt that he will be so pleased about the company that he is keeping on this issue…
Gasp again Comrades


  1. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, cigarettes have been slugged by both parties. The only reason the Libs are criticising the recent hike is because they’re in opposition. If the Libs were in government they’d be doing the same thing and then I’d be keeping better company in criticising it. Although I was actually mocking it.

    When are they going to tax the real problems and the real easy targets of fast food & soft drinks?

  2. Myrddin Seren says:


    Here, I think, is one challenge in the argument about Big Brother wielding the tax axe to modify individual behavior.

    Smoke if you want, ride a motorbike with no helmet, drink meths and sniff petrol for all I care. Throat cancer, for example is a pretty unpleasant way to go – but knock yourself out, if it doesn’t impact on me and mine.

    But unfortunately, on their way out from the ill effects of high risk behavior, a lot of the participants are going to be sitting in very high cost sectors of the public health system on my tax coin until they cross over ( god bless palliative care staff ). And that does indirectly impact me.

    I don’t have a good answer, except that if I am going to wind up paying for other folks’ excesses, I would welcome some serious co-contribution from them….

    ( In this, I am assuming getting a risky condition-specific public health care waiver from high risk participants is simply never going to be on the cards ).


  3. Iain Hall says:

    Oh i know that both sides have a liking for the ” sin” taxes Ray It is easy to mount the argument that raising prices for these commodities is “for the good of the public” I just saw that thing from Minchen this morning and I thought about your tongue in cheek comment from the other day and thought the coincidence worthy of a quick post.
    It also gave me an excuse to drag out the smoking baby gif for another outing

    Myrddin Seren
    Personally I have never smoked the dreaded gaspers and I don’t like tobacco at all (it is a good insecticide in the garden I’m told and I am all for discouraging its use as much as possible but as I say in the previous piece on this topic there has to come a time when driving the price ever higher will just encourage the black market. I think that we are close to that point now.

  4. Billy Bedlam AKA Iain Lygo says:

    I watched Minchin on Q&A last nite and I thought he sounded like a tool, but I am of the same opinion on this. Smoking, boozing, gambling and speeding fines are all taxes on stupidity. If you dont want to pay the ‘tax’ then dont smoke, drink, gamble or speed. The people who complain about these things are just apologists for stupid people.

    Ray, I agree, fast food should be taxed so that it is less affordable and the money raised should be pumped into the health care system. Or maybe used to subsidize more healthy food staples like bread, milk, water, fruit, etc. so that working class families and pensioners can buy these things cheaper and not resort to a Big Mac (super sized of course.)

  5. Iain Hall says:

    I largely agree with you about taxing Boozing smoking and gambling, But I take issue with your position on speeding fines quite simply because I strongly dispute the propaganda that being marginally over arbitrary speed limits is always unsafe.

    As for fast food taxing it further would make no difference to public health , it would be an intrusion into the lives of the people and an egregious example of the nanny state gone mad.

  6. Billy Bedlam AKA Iain Lygo says:

    Do you speed and eat fast food Iain?

    From what I can see these things are both as dangerous to ones health (and in the case of speeding, the health of others) as drinking and smoking. Sure going 3km/hs over the limit is unikely to cause problems but 10-20km/hs certainly will if you lose control or hit someone. Im OK with speeding fines and cameras, although I dont doubt that governments these days tend to rely onthe revenue they produce.

    Eating take away 3+ times a week is bad for your health and especially bad for childrens health. Tax it and put the revenue to good use I say, I dont care if its “nanny state” to do so.

  7. Iain Hall says:

    I don’t as a rule speed I am very respectful of the speed limits
    I live 15 ks away from the nearest shop Once a week takeaways is a treat that I enjoy (while I’m out shopping) my children have it much less often than that. I do the cooking here and prepare healthy meals made with fresh ingredients.
    But how are you going to decide which foods should be taxed under your regime?
    what about the likes of “Subway” which is a very healthy sort of take away food or places selling sushi?
    You open a huge can of worms if you just decide to tax takeaway food.
    what about sit down restaurants or coffee shops?
    Taxation to change eating behaviour will just not work.

  8. Billy Bedlam says:

    Dunno Iain, interesting questions you raise, maybe we could levy junk food taxes on the basis of calorific or fat content? But if taxation to change eating behaviour doesnt work well thats OK, provided the government has extra revenue to put into health care or subisidising healthy food. Maybe the feds could even start up a nationalized chain of healthy food eateries (“Ruddway?”) now there’s a novel thought. Just dont put Peter Garrett in charge.

  9. Iain Hall says:

    I have worked in the takeaway food industry Billy and most of it is not as bad as its painted even so I do agree that eating it too often is not a good idea.
    The trouble with ideas like “a nationalized chain of healthy food eateries (“Ruddway?”) ” is that you would proabably end up with only two choices : soup with salt or soup without salt, neither of which would be edible .

  10. Ray Dixon says:

    There is already a tax on all food prepared for consumption at a restaurant or to take away. It’s called GST. So imposing a fat tax could simply be done via the same mechanism. All registered food servers would be classified as “low fat” or “high fat”. Those classified as “high” would have to pay (say) 25% GST, instead of 10%. It’s simple.

  11. Iain Hall says:

    Not so simple Ray
    An eatery serves a salad and it would fall into different categories depending on what sort of dressing is put onto it
    The same piece of fish would attract a different tax depending on how it is cooked and what it was served with (say a green salad or chips)
    Your scheme would see the owner or manager spending ages just trying to do their tax each day. You may think that the BAS is bad because under your scheme it would be a nightmare!

  12. Billy Bedlam AKA Iain Lygo says:

    I don’t think Ray’s idea is any more complex than the GST is already (remember John Hewson’s birthday cake?) Plus lets face it, we’re not talking about taxing places that sell grilled fish and a green salad, we’re talking about potato chips hamburgers hot dogs and pizza – thats the crap that is making our kids into porkers. SOme of that stuff should be taxed at the source whether it is pre-processed or made onsite.

  13. Ray Dixon says:

    It’s a matter of the classification of the eatery, Iain. Those who sell predominantly low-fat food would be exempted from the fat tax. Places like your local greasy joes and (obviously) Maccas & KFC would not be exempt. Yes that might mean they’re paying tax on *some* of the less fatty and more nutritious foods they sell but overall (if the tax is not set too high) it averages out.

    The assessments could be made by the local council who is already the responsible authority for issuing annual health permits.

  14. Iain Hall says:

    Are you seriously suggesting that a local council could be trusted to do such a thing Ray?
    If a tax is being levied by the feds then it is the feds who should be checking for compliance not local councils.

  15. Ray Dixon says:

    The implementation of the Health Act as it applies to food premises (Federally & State) is already delegated to local council level. This would just be a simple extension of that function. It’s only a matter of them saying, “this is a high fat eatery, and this one is not”. All councils have full time (trained & qualified) health employees quite capable of making such determinations.

  16. SockPuppet says:

    As long as there is a fat tax on pork I will be happy. People must be forced to eat less pig.

  17. gigdiary says:

    Ray, I like the way you think. Living as I do in the lower echelons of Sydney society, it is appalling to see supermarket shopping trolleys filled almost entirely with processed and/or junk foods. Even without GST loading, fresh produce is inherently cheaper, yet the fiscally challenged part of the populace seem to prefer higher priced faux foods with fancy labels. Taxing junk food will not lead the horse to water. As with smoking, the constituents will simply cough up the extra, or as Iain suggests, go the black market route.

    I love the idea of a MacMeal costing twenty dollars, but it ain’t gonna happen.

  18. Ray Dixon says:

    What’s the “black market route” to avoid paying fat tax on a Big Mac?

  19. kae says:

    Big Mac? That’d be a carboard tax.

    Indigestion extra.

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