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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3249..


Title agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Childhood obesity

MR PRATT (5.06): I move:

That the ACT Legislative Assembly:

(1) condemns the Labor government for abandoning the Health and Physical Fitness Assessment Program commissioned by the previous Liberal government.

(2) urges the government to give priority to implementing a program which addresses the increasing problem of Childhood Obesity and includes promoting the implementation of healthy food campaign in all school tuckshops.

Mr Speaker, as a parent and as shadow minister for education, I am concerned about the stark facts that we face in regard to childhood obesity, and I will continue to pound this message until the government decides that it is within the best interests of the community at large, and of our kids, to do something about the problem as a matter of priority, as a matter of urgency. I am also concerned about the level of fitness amongst ACT schoolkids. I am appalled at the apparent lack of interest the government has shown thus far in regard to this matter. It seems to me that the welfare of these children should be given a higher priority.

As I have outlined before, in the past two decades the number of obese Australian children has doubled. Indeed, recently the Dieticians Association of Australia talked about a tripling of the rate in the decade from 1985 to 1995. That is a fairly significant number. The previous government recognised this problem and made moves to do the best by our kids to try to tackle the problem. The previous Liberal government took necessary steps and initiated the establishment of an assessment program to determine the real situation. This process was put in place and was due to commence early this year.

But this government has cancelled the process, mumbling something along the lines of needing more information and waiting for the outcome of current inquiries. What evidence, what information, does the government need? What has to happen before the government acknowledges the seriousness of this problem and actually gets on with the job of trying to implement measures to fix it?

There is a surfeit of information out there in the community. There was in 2000; and there was in 2001. There was plenty of information for the government to pick up on. The government could have hit the ground running in early 2002 to get out there and assess the real levels of health and fitness in our schools and they didn't.

Mr Speaker, whilst I understand that the Assembly's Standing Committee on Health is reviewing related issues, which may well touch on childhood obesity, the inquiry will not necessarily be prescriptive enough with respect to the school environment. Time passes


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