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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3191 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

standing committee looking into the health of school-age children in the ACT, which can then report back to the Assembly. The only thing I would like to bring to the attention of the Assembly in this regard is that the standards are national standards and are not restricted to school-age children, but regulate preschool-age viewers as well.

I urge members to support this motion.

MR PRATT (10.44): Mr Speaker, I rise to talk in support of Ms Gallagher's motion. In principle, I support what Ms Gallagher is trying to achieve. I commend her for acknowledging that there is a problem with the high consumption of junk food by Australian children. Mind you, Mr Speaker, I do find it a tad ironic that this is a Labor motion, given the recent criticism of me in particular by Mr Corbell for advocating healthy tuckshop standards, but let us put that to one side. I have been extremely disappointed with the lack of interest that the government has shown in the problem of childhood obesity thus far and see this motion as a step, albeit a very small one, in the right direction.

Mr Speaker, in the past two decades the number of obese Australian children has doubled. Without change, half of our children could soon be overweight. This is an alarming fact, one which deserves the government's serious interest. There are many problems which stem from childhood obesity and the lack of physical fitness amongst school-age children. For the child, these include the obvious physical difficulties, lack of self-esteem, lack of motivation, victimisation by peers and depression, as well as numerous other behavioural problems and health problems.

Mr Corbell: I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. Ms Gallagher's motion is about television advertising standards as they relate to junk food. It is not a motion about childhood obesity. There is a motion on the notice paper for later this day which deals with childhood obesity and which Mr Pratt will be moving. Mr Pratt has to focus on this motion, not his own motion for later this day. I ask you to draw his attention to relevance, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: It is important to remain relevant to the motion before the chamber, Mr Pratt. If you could do that, it would be very helpful.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, on the point of order: I was just providing the background that I need to provide to this serious issue. I will be getting to the fundamental issue of the motion now.

MR SPEAKER: That is good.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, if the standing committee finds that there are not adequate standards in relation to children's television advertising and if it can be determined that there is a link between this inadequacy and childhood obesity, then this will be a matter for further investigation. Like Ms Gallagher, I am concerned with the impact of junk food advertising during children's television viewing time. While the responsibility for the quality of television watching begins at home with the parent, there is no doubt in my mind that a responsible community has a general role to play in supporting families, as well as our school system.

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