Taxpayer Funded Sugar Tax Lobbyists Refuse Transparency
The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming a group of public health campaigners running a ‘consultation process’ on sugar taxes and limitations on sugary drinks for claiming official endorsement while at the same time refusing to adhere to the Official Information Act on privacy grounds.
The New Zealand Beverage Guidance Panel, a subsidiary of the 'Fizz' group operated out of the University of Auckland, is holding a media event at midday to launch a policy brief titled: Options to reduce sugar sweetened beverage consumption in New Zealand. In February the Taxpayers’ Union exposed the Fizz group for falsely claiming official endorsement from the Health Research Council of New Zealand.
Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says “On the one hand these people try to trumpet official credentials, but the moment we ask basic questions about the process they are running, the group hides behind personal privacy and claim they're not official.”
"Despite claiming to be science based, the group is about political advocacy. It takes taxpayer money to promote tuck shop taxes but refuse to adhere to freedom of information laws and ignore the international evidence of fat and sugar tax failure."
The Taxpayers’ Union requested, among other things, copies of the submissions emailed to University of Auckland made as part of the Guidance Panel’s submission process. Despite the University hosting the Fizz group and being listed as a supporter, the University refused to provide the information on the basis that the Fizz coordinator, Professor Gerhard Sundborn, claims the emails are personal to him. The Taxpayers' Union has complained to the Ombudsman and is also considering other legal options.
“These people are so determined to promote a sugar tax at today’s consultation event, it appears they’ve only invited those people in favour. This isn’t about consultation or science, it’s a taxpayer funded campaign to tax you more."