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Kiwis Say Yes To A Tax On Unhealthy Food - TV3’s The


Wednesday 27 March, 2013

Kiwis Say Yes To A Tax On Unhealthy Food - TV3’s The Vote

New Zealanders voted for taxing unhealthy food after the premiere episode of new national debate programme The Vote, which screened tonight on TV3.

Duncan Garner and the Affirmative team were declared the winners of the debate at the end of the hour-long show with the votes tallied at 54% YES, 46% NO.

Viewers voted from around the country and overseas, with votes coming in from as far afield as Alaska, India, and the United Kingdom. The Vote was streamed LIVE at and was not geo-blocked. During the broadcast #thevotenz trended at #1 in New Zealand on Twitter.

Viewer votes:

55% YES
45% NO
51% YES
49% NO
56% YES
44% NO
52% YES
48% NO
54% YES
46% NO

The theatre audience voted before and after the debate. The results are:

Theater audience vote – prior to debate
Theatre audience vote – end of debate
44% YES
44% NO
42% YES
57% NO

The Vote is a new format, dubbed ‘competitive current affairs’, which sees co-hosts Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner each month lead two teams to debate a hot topic. Tonight a coin toss decided that Duncan would lead the Affirmative team arguing that ‘It’s time to tax unhealthy food, with Dr Robyn Toomath of Fight the Obesity Epidemic and Geoff Simmons of the Gareth Morgan Foundation.

Guyon was joined by Lindsay Mouat Chairman of the Food Industry Group, and Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett made the case against the moot. Referee Linda Clark kept order in a debate that was heated, passionate, informative, entertaining, at times controversial and often hilarious – as Guyon said in the debate: “If you eat food, you’re going to care about this debate.”

The arguments for:

Duncan Garner’s team argued that New Zealand needed to take effective action on the obesity epidemic. Aside from the impact on the heath and wellbeing of Kiwis, our economy could not afford the impact of an obese workforce.
• “I think it’s as bad as it gets. We’re the third worst eaters in the world.” - Dr Robyn Toomath.
• “In 1980 one in 10 people were obese. Now a million of us are obese”. - Dr Robyn Toomath.
• “Unhealthy food now kills more people than cigarettes … we need to treat this as as big a threat as smoking.” - Geoff Simmons
• “One in five Kiwis has the early signs of diabetes [which] is going to wipe out our workforce.” – Geoff Simmons
• “[Soft drinks] have absolutely no good nutrients in them whatsoever. It’s the equivalent of filling your car up at the pump with petrol and never checking the oil and water”. – Geoff Simmons
• “We know that price is a very powerful way of changing choice. It’s the most effective means that we have.” – Dr Robyn Toomath

Asked for details on the proposed tax, the Affirmative team said they’d start with a 20% tax on soda and sugary drinks, with the money raised by taxation used to make healthy food cheaper.

The arguments against:

Guyon’s Espiner’s Negative team said a tax simply wouldn’t work, that freedom of choice was under threat, and that the impact on lower income earners would be unfair. Instead, they argued the supermarket duopoly needed to be broken to make food prices more competitive overall, and that treat food should not be more expensive for those who eat it occasionally.
• “Lower income people are not going to be helped by some nutritional nanny state.” – Nick Leggett
• “Who decides what’s unhealthy? It really worries me that this is actually a tax by zealots who want to control us.” – Nick Leggett
• “The end point is, the government is going to give you a shopping list to go to your supermarket and buy your products.” - Lindsay Mouat
• “I agree we should be incentivising everybody to eat more affordable food and more healthy food. You don’t do that through a regressive tax that hits the very people who can’t afford it”. – Nick Leggett
• “The public is confused. It was only a few years ago we were told we’re eating too much fat, then it became too much sugar, then it became too much salt, too much carbohydrate … Any food in excess is not good for you.” - Lindsay Mouat

A full transcript of the programme will be available at within a few hours of the broadcast, and the episode will be available to view OnDemand.



The Vote is competitive current affairs – a monthly series of entertaining and informative national debates on the big issues facing New Zealanders. The debates take place in theatres with audience participation and viewers at home are invited to take part, by having their say and voting.

The opinion that matters most is that of the audience watching at home, who are encouraged to vote for free at, via Twitter @TheVoteNZ and Facebook at The Vote NZ. Viewers can also vote by texting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to 3920 at a cost of 20 cents per text.

The Vote is produced by TV3’s News and Current Affairs division with funding from NZ On Air, and screens once every four weeks in the same timeslot as 3rd Degree.

3rd Degree presents ‘The Vote’.
Wednesday 27 March, 8.30pm on TV3.


MediaWorks NZ Limited (website: ) is New Zealand’s leading private sector broadcast and online media company. Through its specialist divisions – MediaWorks TV, MediaWorks Radio and MediaWorks Interactive, it owns and operates the TV3 and FOUR television networks, national radio brands The Edge, The Rock, MORE FM, Kiwi FM, RadioLIVE, LiveSPORT, The Sound, The Breeze, George FM and Mai FM, plus several local radio stations, and a family of websites.


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