It goes without saying that fresh foods are very important for our overall well-being. But if a proposal for fresh produce to be taxed is followed through on, we may all be reaching in our pockets a little bit more to stay fit and healthy.
Isn’t it ironic that health foods are the most important and necessary products for people to consume to stay healthy, yet they are often a lot more expensive to purchase when compared to fatty, unhealthy foods? Yes, it is definitely worth the extra money to eat well and avoid health related issues. However, if the GST begins to be applied to fresh foods this price gap could become a whole lot larger!
Federal Liberal MP Dan Tehan has called for the GST to be applied to goods and services such as health, education and fresh food, stating that the GST currently covers less than half of Australia’s consumption and could raise the economy an extra 22 billion per year. Financial benefits aside, this argument has been met with a strong backlash from the Dietitians association of Australia (DAA).
“Many Australians already fall short when it comes to fruit and vegetables,” says DAA CEO Claire Hewat. “Bumping up the price of these healthy staples will make it more difficult for some people to eat these foods. We need to be making it easier for people to eat fresh, healthy foods, not harder.”
The DAA claim that any financial benefits from applying the GST to fresh fruits and vegetables will be offset by the cost to the health system. They believe that if the government is serious about saving money, they should start by preventing poor health, including diet-related chronic diseases.
The country’s latest National Nutrition Survey shows only around one in ten Australians (6.8%) aged two years and over eat enough vegetables, and just over half (54%) eat enough fruit.
Ms Hewat says that vulnerable groups, such as Indigenous Australians and people with low incomes, will be hit hardest if healthy foods are taxed.
“People in remote communities, especially Indigenous Australians, already pay far too much for fresh food. Adding an extra cost through the GST would only make matters worse. These are the same groups with the poorest health outcomes.
“Access to adequate nutritious food is a basic human right and adding the GST to fresh, healthy food puts this right at risk for many Australians.”
What do you think? Should the GST be extended to fresh foods, or would the impact on health outweigh the financial benefits? Let us know in the comments below!