Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3194 ..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
of the harmful effects of smoking and came to the recognition that smoking should not be promoted. In the same way, I think we need to consider the impact of junk food advertising.
Ms Gallagher made reference to what has been done in Sweden and Norway. I remember meeting a Swedish girl when I was around the age of 9 and I recall that, as well as having bans on that sort of thing because there was a recognition that eating too much junk food was not good for young bodies, Sweden also had at that stage more draconian legislation about what parents could and could not feed their children. I believe that it actually had laws which said that a certain amount of junk food was not allowed.
I know that children in Singapore who are found to be overweight are put on programs, but I do not think that we need to be going down that path because Australia does not have a reputation for imposing legislation in that regard which regulates to that extent. But we do need to have great concern about the falling nutritional standards in this country, the fact that it is not just the kids out there who are eating all the junk food, but their parents as well. Why is that so? Is it that the parents are getting the same messages from the advertising? Also, parents do not necessarily know how to prepare nutritional meals any more because information is not going out through advertising and other programs on how to actually prepare healthy meals for themselves and their kids.
The other day the Health Committee, as part of its inquiry, got to hear about the funky foods program which goes on in the Belconnen area and is aimed at promoting healthy food to kids as funky and something that is important for their bodies and will make them feel better. I am pleased that Ms Gallagher has put this motion on the notice paper, because we do need to combat the rising levels of problems with nutrition, obesity and all the things to do with not actually having a healthy diet and not getting enough exercise, et cetera, which is all tied up with the advertising of junk food. We do need to introduce standards in terms of advertising for junk food.
I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR SMYTH (11.00): Mr Speaker, I join my colleagues on the Health Committee in welcoming the broadening of our inquiry into the health of school-age students in the ACT. It is a very important inquiry and, as said by Ms Tucker and Ms MacDonald, it is progressing well. This is not something that was included in the initial terms of reference because, quite clearly, it is outside the scope of the ACT's legislative powers. But, that being said, it is certainly not something that we should shy away from. I look forward to the possibility of making recommendations in the future that this Assembly ask the federal government to look at what we have discovered in the ACT and hope that we will take the opportunity to call on the federal government to contribute to the debate by following the example of what has occurred overseas.
As Mr Pratt said in his speech, one of the drivers on the question of obesity of young Australians in this day and age is how much the advertising of junk food, breakfast cereals and other things in those prime time slots that are deliberately aimed at children is contributing to their obesity. I think we need to take that into account by adding that to the committee's inquiry and then using it as a springboard to address the issue nationally. This is certainly something on which the ACT can lead and should lead. I welcome the