Preventative health push

Consumers of alcohol and sugary drinks would be more out-of-pocket under the recommendations of a national health report launched on Monday. 

The report has proposed a 10 per cent increase in the current alcohol excise and a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. 

It stated an alcohol excise increase, and applying consistent volumetric tax prices to alcohol, would help significantly reduce alcohol related harm. 

​The Getting Australia’s Health on Track report proposed to “scale up supported vocational programs across Australia for people with a mental illness” among other priority policy actions. 

Restrictions on children being exposed to unhealthy goods advertising, enhanced media campaigns to reduce smoking and investments in active travel initiatives were also included. 

One in two Australians have a chronic disease, according to the report. 

Federal Assistant Rural Health Minister Dr David Gillespie said calls for a sugar tax “were not in line with government thinking”. 

“We have many initiatives, not just dietary guidelines and activity guidelines ... but programs ... and the most important initiative is the Healthy Food Partnership,” Dr Gillespie said. 

A state government spokeswoman said the Hodgman Government did not support the alcohol or sugar tax recommendations. The policy report was published by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University. The report was produced through a collaboration of 70 leading chronic disease experts and organisations.

The report’s measures of achievement by 2025 included a 25 per cent reduction in high blood pressure, a 30 per cent reduction in average salt intake, a 20 per cent reduction in the harmful use of alcohol and a goal to reduce the smoking rate to 5 per cent. Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief executive Alison Verhoeven said investing in preventative health measures would assist in responding to “the growing burden of chronic disease”.